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    7 Ways Sleep Apnea Can Hurt Your Health

    Snoring can make for a bad night’s sleep, for you and your bed mate. But if it happens because you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it’s a sign of a bigger problem.

    The condition raises your risk for other health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. It can even make you more dangerous on the road. But when you treat sleep apnea, you can ease or even cure some of these issues.

    Recommended Related to Sleep Apnea

    Mouth Devices for Sleep Apnea

    If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea -- a condition in which relaxation of the muscles around the tongue and throat causes the tissues to block airflow to the lungs while you sleep -- there are a number of treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Two of the most widely used and most effective are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and dental appliances, or mouth guards.

    Read the Mouth Devices for Sleep Apnea article > >

    Here are seven health problems you might face if you have OSA:

    1. High blood pressure. If you already have it, sleep apnea can make it worse. When you wake up often during the night, your body gets stressed. That makes your hormone systems go into overdrive, which boosts your blood pressure levels. Also, the level of oxygen in your blood drops when you can’t breathe well, which may add to the problem. 

    Treatment can make a difference, though. Some people with high BP who get help for sleep apnea will see their blood pressure improve. Their doctors may be able to cut back on their BP medications. (But you shouldn’t stop or change your dose without talking to your doctor first.)

    2. Heart disease. People with OSA are more likely to have heart attacks. 

    The causes may be low oxygen or the stress of waking up often. Strokes and atrial fibrillation -- a fast, fluttering heartbeat -- are also linked with the condition. 

    Sleep apnea disrupts how your body takes in oxygen, which makes it hard for your brain to control how blood flows in your arteries and the brain itself.

    3. Type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is common among people with this condition -- 80% or more of them may have OSA. 

    Obesity raises a person’s risk for both disorders. Although studies haven’t shown a cause-and-effect link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, not getting enough shut-eye can keep your body from using insulin properly, which leads to diabetes.

    4. Weight gain. Extra pounds raise your chances of getting sleep apnea, and the condition also makes it harder to slim down. 

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