Sleep Apnea Health Dangers: Causes and Symptoms

Posted on: June 5, 2019

People dealing with sleep apnea have trouble sleeping because their sleep is constantly interrupted due to a temporary failure to breathe while asleep. When their brain realizes that they are not breathing, they are awoken and the cycle repeats itself throughout the night.

Due to the constant interruption of sleep, sleep apnea patients are left tired during the day, which affects their physical and mental health.

Causes and symptoms of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is caused by a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Genetics
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Bite problems
  • Birth defects, like Down syndrome

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Headaches in the morning
  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Irritability
  • Trouble staying awake during the day
  • Lack of focus

What are the different types of sleep apnea?

The three main types of sleep apnea are:

Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It causes breathing to start and stop repeatedly during sleep because the throat muscles relax and block the airway.

Central sleep apnea

This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs because the throat muscles relax while sleeping, central sleep apnea can occur as a result of other health problems, like heart failure and strokes.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

This is a rare form of sleep apnea that occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Health risks associated with sleep apnea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health risks, including:

Heart problems and high blood pressure

The sudden drops in the blood oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea increase blood pressure and puts a strain on the cardiovascular system. This puts the patient at increased risk of high blood pressure.

Fatigue during the day

Waking up repeatedly in the night makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest. That makes the sleep apnea patient groggy during the day, which increases their irritability. People with sleep apnea have difficulty concentrating and sometimes fall asleep at work or at school. Sleep apnea patients also have an increased risk of getting into car accidents because they are likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Type-2 diabetes

People who have sleep apnea are likely to develop resistance to insulin, which puts them at risk of having type-2 diabetes.

Complications during surgery

Sleep apnea patients who have to undergo surgery or take medication for other health conditions are likely to have complications. This is due to the reaction between the medication that they are taking and the general anesthesia used. The fact that they are prone to breathing problems, especially when they are sedated and sleeping on their backs, can also lead to complications during surgery.


Sleep apnea makes it difficult for people to get a good night’s rest, which impacts their daily lives and can lead to other health problems. If you wake up repeatedly while sleeping or snore loudly, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to find out if you have sleep apnea and immediately begin treatment.

Request an appointment here: or call Simply Smiles Dentistry at (520) 368-3351 for an appointment in our Tucson office.

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