Whether we are awake or asleep, the process of breathing should be smooth and almost effortless. The intake of oxygen helps feed the brain, liver and other organs. When the airway becomes obstructed, oxygen levels decrease and carbon dioxide levels rise. Low oxygen levels make the heart work harder and damage organs and tissues.
As a result of a sleep breathing disorder, we experience fragmented sleep and do not get the deep, refreshing, restorative sleep needed to rejuvenate our bodies. This takes its toll on our overall health and life expectancy, robbing us of the quality and quantity of life we deserve.
SO ———What are the consequences of not treating a sleep breathing disorder?
- On our personal lives the impacts are seen in –
- Excessive daytime sleepiness; fatigue; irritability
- Poor performance at school or on the job; lack of focus and concentration
- Loss of productivity
- Tension and disharmony in relationships
- Health issues manifest as –
- Cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure (hypertension) and an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.
- Sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction and lack of libido.
- Depression or other mood disorders
- Obesity; weight gain.
The most important step is to take action. Seek help from your primary care physician or a physician board certified in sleep medicine. Various testing options are available to determine the type of sleep breathing disorder a person may have. Diagnosis is key to identify treatment alternatives.