The Effects of Sleep Apnea

The Effects of Sleep Apnea

Sep 01, 2020

The word ‘apnea’ from sleep apnea is a Greek term that stands for ‘without breath.’ Most people with the condition are usually unaware of the breathing stoppages as they are not fully awake when it happens. Sleep apnea exists in three types: Central, obstructive, and mixed. The commonest of them all is obstructive sleep apnea, which is known as OSA in short.

Airway blockage is the leading cause of obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses, blocking the airways during sleep. As for central sleep apnea, it’s the brain that fails to control breathing muscles, while the combination of both causes mixed sleep apnea.

A conducted research has shown that the condition is common in men than women, and the most affected are Hispanic and African-American men. If not treated, sleep apnea may shorten your lifespan and cause other serious illnesses like stroke, heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, diabetes, and hypertension. Other complications and conditions associated with sleep disorders include Glaucoma, chronic fatigue, memory troubles, metabolic syndrome, and motor-vehicle accidents.

Its Symptoms

The brain of a person with this chronic disorder is forced to make a decision between sleeping and breathing continuously. This makes it impossible to achieve deep sleep because of continually waking up. One common sign that may indicate sleep apnea is sleepiness during day time as a result of interrupted sleep during the night. Below is a list of additional symptoms and they include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Insomnia
  • Concentrating difficulties
  • Morning headache
  • Decreased libido or erectile dysfunction
  • Sore throat or dry mouth upon waking up
  • Irritability

Risk Factors

  • Smoking
  • Menopause
  • Down syndrome
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Obesity
  • Large adenoids or tonsils
  • Large overbite or a recessed chin
  • A pre-existing history of apnea condition in your family


All Smiles Dental has sleep apnea dentists in Hazlet, NJ, offering sleep apnea diagnostic tests and treatment for apnea patients. If you suffer from mild sleep apnea, the Hazlet dental team may recommend lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight. If your condition doesn’t improve following these measures, there are other treatments that may be suggested, and at times, surgery may be necessary. The treatments are:


  • CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) – People with mild or severe apnea events are likely to benefit from this machine. CPAP is a unique machine built to generate enough air pressure to keep the upper airways open hence prevent snoring and apnea events. It is among the most reliable methods of sleep apnea treatment.
  • Oral appliances – Persons who find the CPAP machine uncomfortable may opt for oral appliances that help keep the throat open. Some patients find this method more comfortable, although it’s not as effective as CPAP. You can get these devices from a dental clinic.
  • Supplement oxygen – Patients with central sleep apnea mostly use supplemental oxygen.


Surgery is recommended when all other forms of treatment have not been successful. Generally, it will take at least three months of trial treatment options before it is considered. The surgical options may include Tissue removal, jaw repositioning, tissue shrinkage, nerve stimulation, tracheostomy, and implants.

Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Brain

OSA affects your brain just as much as it affects the heart. Sleep deprivation damages the neurons, changes neurotransmitters levels and also causes changes to occur in the brain matter leading to loss of memory and other conditions. The damage is, however, reversible with proper treatment.

A study on people with OSA revealed that they have troubles of changing short-term memories to long-term ones. While sleeping memory consolidation takes place, and it plays a vital role when it comes to memory-creating processes. When you have a sleep disorder, your brain has trouble categorizing and incorporating your experiences, thus impairing memory formation, which leads to forgetfulness.

In February 2016, there was a study published by the UCLA School of Nursing that showed sleep apnea changes the levels of important chemicals found in the brain known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate.

These two compounds influence how your mind works. GABA levels dropped in sleep apnea patients causing brain damage, which also meant that there was a re-organization in the brain’s working system. It is possible to return the brain chemicals to normal levels with PAP therapy.

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