The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea

Close to a billion people around the world suffer from obstructive sleep apnea , which is the most common type of sleep apnea. According to research, some countries have at least a 50% prevalence of the medical condition.

But what is sleep apnea, and how dangerous is it?

What is Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a group of sleeping disorders that result in abnormal breathing patterns while in slumber. People suffering from the medical condition will experience pauses in their breathing during sleep. In most cases, they will be jolted awake. In some, they are entirely unaware of the situation.

There are two types of sleep apnea: Obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Between 10% to 30% of adults reportedly suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to the Sleep Foundation. A definite percentage is hard to come by because there are many undiagnosed sleep apnea issues. It is characterized by a constricted or blocked throat that causes the person to snore because air is not passing through as usual.

Many of those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air.

Central Sleep Apnea

Breathing in the middle of sleep may become shallow, or there may be some pauses because of the disrupted communication between the brain and muscles that control breathing. This type of sleep apnea is rare, with less than 1% of the population known to have it.

Who is at Risk of Sleep Apnea?

Why do some people suffer from sleep apnea while others don’t? Some risk factors come into play. Consider the following:

  • The older a person gets, the higher their chance of getting obstructive sleep apnea
  • Males are generally more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea
  • People with larger tongues and shorter lower jaws also have higher chances of getting sleep apnea
  • The higher the body mass index, the more at risk a person is of sleep apnea
  • Sleep apnea may also run in the family.

​People who are at risk of sleep apnea or those who suspect they have the medical condition must visit a sleep specialist or doctor.

Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea

People often take sleep quality for granted. Most people are not as worried with sleep apnea as they are with cancer. However, untreated sleep apnea can be dangerous.


People suffering from the medical condition may not get enough sleep because they are jolted awake by the pauses in breathing. This lack of sleep could result in accidents.


Sleep apnea could worsen health conditions that are already worrying in the first place. For example, when you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air, your blood pressure may spike. Since sleep apnea disrupts the delivery of oxygen to the body, complications may include the more dangerous heart disease.

Brain Fog

Untreated sleep apnea also results in brain fog or a person’s inability to focus on their work or other tasks.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

The doctor may recommend the use of a breathing device known as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The machine provides air pressure to the upper airways to keep them open and help you breathe better.

To determine if you have sleep apnea or not and what type it is, you must undertake two tests:

  • Nocturnal polysomnography
  • Home sleep tests

HME Locations? Find a Sleep Center Near You!

Take the first step to sleep apnea treatment by finding a sleep center near you. Our system aims to make the search easier for you. Click here to find a sleep center! Once diagnosed, waste no time searching for the appropriate medical support to help you sleep better.

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