Sleep Apnea and Its Connection to Other Health Conditions

Sleep Apnea and Its Connection to Other Health Conditions

May 01, 2023

Sleep apnea is a common condition that causes patients to have breathing difficulties while asleep. People living with the illness tend to experience symptoms that may include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Patients with sleep apnea may also be at risk of getting other health problems. We will discuss sleep apnea, its causes, and how it’s connected to other health conditions.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep-related disorder characterized by sleep deprivation, mainly due to the patient experiencing breathing difficulties. People with sleep apnea tend to experience a drastic reduction in sleep quality, which may affect their concentration and work output during the day. Even though patients with sleep apnea suffer from breathing problems, they may not realize it, which makes the condition difficult to self-diagnose. There are two common types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by blockage of the airway at the back of the throat. The airways become constricted or blocked during sleep, preventing air from passing through correctly. In response to airway blocking, people suffering from the condition tend to wake up at night to take several gaps or deep breaths, causing a snoring or choking sound.

About 10-30% of adults living in the USA suffer from sleep apnea, making it the most common type of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, most cases of obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed, causing the patient to have an insufficient sleep throughout their lives. We recommend visiting a dentist in Laguna Beach for checkups, as they are well-equipped with equipment that helps diagnose sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a sleep apnea condition caused by a disruption in the communication between the brain and muscles that control breathing. The interruption results in patients having shallow breaths, which pause temporarily during sleep. Studies indicate the prevalence of central sleep apnea is lower than obstructive sleep apnea, with less than 1% of the population suffering from the illness.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include abnormal nighttime breathing and a reduction in the quality of sleep. Patients may also experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe depending on the severity of the condition. The following symptoms may indicate sleep apnea near you:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Feeling constantly sleepy during the day
  • Prolonged headaches in the morning, which may last for hours
  • Being restless at night and continuously waking up during sleep
  • Letting out loud snores followed by gasping or choking sounds
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Being easily frustrated or irritated even when not provoked
  • Loss of focus and concentration
  • Increased need to wake up at night to urinate

Some of these symptoms may go unnoticed by the person living with the condition. For example, the patient may only realize that they snore at night if observed by a partner in bed.

Central Sleep Apnea

  • Abnormal breathing patterns (breathing that speeds up or slows down and pauses during sleep)
  • Constantly waking up at night
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Lack of concentration
  • Shortness of breath or chest pains at night

An experienced dentist best diagnoses sleep apnea in Laguna Beach; visit our dental clinic for consultation and treatment. Like obstructive sleep apnea, patients hardly notice they are suffering from sleep conditions. This results in a drastic reduction in the performance of patients living with the illness.

Health Issues That May Cause Sleep Apnea

High Blood Pressure: Sleep apnea may worsen if you are already diagnosed with high blood pressure. Sleep apnea causes the patient to constantly wake up at night. Unfortunately, by doing so, the patient’s body gets stressed. The stress causes your body’s hormones to go into overdrive, causing your blood pressure to rise. In addition, oxygen reduction due to irregular breathing patterns may add to the problem.

Heart Disease: People living with objective sleep apnea are more likely to get heart attacks. Heart attacks are triggered by low oxygen concentration due to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea will disrupt breathing, making it hard for your brain to control blood flow in your arteries and brain.

Heart Failure: Obstructive sleep apnea increases the chances of contracting pulmonary hypertension, otherwise known as right-sided heart failure (RHF). The condition tends to occur when the right ventricle is too weak to pump sufficient blood to your lungs. As a result, blood builds up in the patient’s veins, and fluid is pushed back into the tissue resulting in swelling. Patients with pulmonary hypertension may experience symptoms such as swelling in their feet, ankles, and legs.

Stroke: OSA reduces blood flow to the brain, increasing the patient’s chances of getting an ischemic stroke. In addition, studies show that the likelihood of experiencing this stroke is 25% higher when sleeping since they tend to occur early in the morning.

Type 2 Diabetes: Although studies haven’t shown a cause-and-effect link between diabetes and sleep apnea, not getting enough sleep may deter your body from getting enough insulin, thus increasing the chances of getting diabetes.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

A doctor makes the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Your dentist in Laguna Beach will carry out several tests, including a sleep study, your health history, and a physical exam. Treatment for sleep apnea will depend on the type of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with. For OSA, treatment may include Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy and, in severe cases, surgery.

Central sleep apnea is treated differently. Unlike OSA, this treatment addresses the medical issue causing sleep apnea. If the condition is mild, the treatment will address the underlying cause of sleep disruptions. However, if severe, additional treatment may be recommended to treat the underlying problem while resolving the breathing difficulties.


Sleep apnea is a condition that is hard to self-diagnose, especially when its symptoms are mild. The condition is linked to other health problems and may increase in severity if not diagnosed and treated. Visit Laguna Family Dentistry for diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea to avoid future health complications related to sleep apnea.

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