By now, you probably know that if you're living with obstructive sleep apnea, you're living with a severe health problem - especially if it's untreated. But, there's something else that you should know: Sleep apnea can make recovering from surgery more difficult for you than for your peers who don't have the sleep disorder.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that individuals living with severe sleep apnea had a higher risk of cardiac complications after surgery than those without sleep apnea. They also had twice the risk of dying from these complications within 30 days of their procedure.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA is a sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep. Mild to moderate cases of the condition cause 30 or fewer interruptions per night, while moderate to severe cases are 30 more interruptions per night. Some individuals with extreme sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times during sleep.

The word obstruction comes into play when the soft tissues of the throat collapse and block the airway. The tongue falling back and blocking the airway is another cause of obstruction.

Researchers estimate that 22 million Americans are living with some form of sleep apnea, and about 80 percent of that number have moderate to severe forms of OSA.

Many people underestimate the seriousness of living with OSA, but researchers hope that the results of the study motivate individuals living with OSA to seek treatment.

In addition to surgical complications, those living with OSA and other forms of sleep apnea have a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), stroke, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. OSA has also been linked to increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, dementia and depression.

The Signs of Sleep Apnea

If you think you have sleep apnea, we suggest calling Legends Dental for a consultation. But, here are some common warning signs of the condition:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking for breath during sleep
  • Daytime fatigue despite 'getting enough sleep'
  • Lack of energy
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Fatigue while driving
  • Headaches, especially in the morning
  • Migraine
  • Restless sleep or insomnia
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Changes in mood, including depression and anxiety
  • Loss of libido

If you're living with untreated sleep apnea or are seeing the signs we mentioned, it's time to give us a call. Call (254) 294-4040 to schedule your appointment.