Untreated Sleep Apnea

If you have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea or suspect that you or your partner is suffering from it, it is important that you take it seriously and seek sleep apnea treatment as soon as possible. However, it can quickly fall down on the priority list because it happens in your sleep, and you’re mostly unaware of it. What’s the point of rushing and getting treatment for something you may not even realize is happening? The fact is, there are many health issues surrounding sleep apnea, especially if it goes untreated. Keep reading to learn more about what happens to your body if you have untreated sleep apnea and where to get treatment as soon as possible.

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about sleep apnea if someone tells you that you snore or gasp during sleep or if you experience other symptoms of poor-quality sleep, such as excessive daytime sleepiness.

There are two types of sleep apnea.

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your upper airway becomes blocked many times while you sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Anything that could narrow your airway, such as obesity, large tonsils, or changes in your hormone levels, can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
  2. Central sleep apnea happens when your brain does not send the signals needed to breathe. Health conditions that affect how your brain controls your airway and chest muscles can cause central sleep apnea.


There is only one root cause of obstructive sleep apnea. Simply put, something is blocking the airflow through your upper airways during sleep. What exactly is causing the blockage? This is the larger issue that you need to speak with your doctor about when you go in for sleep apnea treatment. CPAP machines can apply pressure to the airways, which opens them up and allow for better, restful sleep. However, it does nothing to correct the actual blockage. Finding exactly what is obstructing your airways and correcting the issue will be the only thing to give you successful, long-term help for your sleep apnea.

Everyone has different reasons why their airways may be obstructed. It may be something easy to fix, such as a lifestyle change. However, it can be something more difficult, such as large tonsils, that requires surgery. Some of the risk factors involved with sleep apnea include the following, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute:

  • Age: Sleep apnea can occur at any age, but your risk increases as you get older. As you age, fatty tissue can build up in your neck and tongue and raise your risk of sleep apnea.
  • Endocrine disorders, or changes in your hormone levels: Your hormone levels can affect the size and shape of your face, tongue, and airway. People who have low levels of thyroid hormones or high levels of insulin or growth hormone have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
  • Family history and genetics: Sleep apnea can be inherited. Your genes help determine the size and shape of your skull, face, and upper airway. Also, your genes can raise your risk of other health conditions that can lead to sleep apnea, such as cleft lip and cleft palate and Down syndrome.
  • Heart or kidney failure: These conditions can cause fluid to build up in your neck, which can block your upper airway.
  • Large tonsils and a thick neck: These features may cause sleep apnea because they narrow your upper airway. Also, having a large tongue and your tongue’s position in your mouth can make it easier for your tongue to block your airway while you sleep.
  • Lifestyle habits: Drinking alcohol and smoking can raise your risk of sleep apnea. Alcohol can make the muscles of your mouth and throat relax, which may close your upper airway. Smoking can cause inflammation in your upper airway, which affects breathing.
  • Obesity: This condition is a common cause of sleep apnea. People with this condition can have increased fat deposits in their necks that can block the upper airway. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or treat sleep apnea caused by obesity.
  • Sex: Sleep apnea is more common in men than in women. Men are more likely to have serious sleep apnea and to get sleep apnea at a younger age than women.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Wondering if you may have sleep apnea? Take a look at the following symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Stop breathing during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Needing water throughout the night
  • Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability
  • Obesity
  • Difficulty losing weight

Untreated Sleep Apnea: What Happens?

Sleep apnea is a condition that you suffer from while you are asleep, which can make it difficult to prioritize over other things going on in your life. However, its ripple effects can impact your life in many ways outside of sleep. Even though you may not think sleep apnea is a big deal, there are many health issues that you are now at a much higher risk for. This is why it is so important to understand why your sleep apnea is occurring and fix the issue at the source. If not, you can suffer from very dangerous health issues, including obesity, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and mental health struggles.


Obesity and sleep apnea go hand-in-hand in the sense that one can often cause the other. While not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea is necessarily obese or even overweight, eventually, that will likely change. This happens for many reasons, including:

  • Poor quality of oxygen coming in through the mouth rather than the nose makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight
  • Low amounts of oxygen in the bloodstream make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight
  • Daytime sluggishness often leads to more coffee, which can include sugary additives
  • Daytime sleepiness can also put cooking healthy foods as a lower priority, often opting for something fast and filling that is often not the healthiest choice
  • Sleep apnea slows down the body’s metabolism

Heart Attack

According to Harvard Medical School, each time a person with sleep apnea stops breathing, the body’s oxygen level drops. The body reacts by producing epinephrine (also called adrenaline), a stress hormone. Over time, high adrenaline levels can contribute to high blood pressure. Repeated surges in blood pressure levels can damage the lining of the blood vessels, and sleep disturbances can also raise levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and other blood fats. These changes may lead to clogged arteries and poor heart muscle function. People with untreated sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who don’t have the disorder.


Another scary health condition that you face while suffering from sleep apnea is stroke. In fact, sleep apnea can greatly increase your chances of getting a stroke for many reasons, including the strain that is put on the heart at such an early age for so long.

Sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke for middle-aged and older men and also increases the stroke risk in middle-aged and older women. In fact, the more severe your sleep apnea, the greater the risk of stroke. One study found men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were three times as likely to have a stroke as men with mild sleep apnea or without sleep apnea. Men with sleep apnea may have a higher risk of stroke because they develop sleep apnea at a younger age.


Yes: Sleep apnea and diabetes are related for many reasons. First, as mentioned earlier, obesity is a health issue that usually occurs in people who suffer from sleep apnea. As such, a chain reaction occurs, and type 2 diabetes usually occurs as well. If you already have diabetes, sleep apnea can make it very difficult to manage your diabetes. Sleep apnea can alter your body’s blood glucose levels due to the low amounts of oxygen in the bloodstream. There is also increased carbon dioxide in the blood which quickly leads to insulin resistance.

Mental Health Struggles

Sleep apnea can cause mood swings such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. Not allowing your body the opportunity to get restful sleep can quickly lead to these issues. In addition, the poor oxygen in the bloodstream can cause high blood pressure, which keeps you on edge and causes anxiety. If you are suffering from unexplained anxiety, depression, and mood swings, getting your sleep apnea corrected can possibly change your life and your mental health for the better. The sooner you get sleep apnea treatment, the sooner your mental health struggles can get better and, as such, your quality and zest for life.

Sleep Apnea Treatment with Gorman Health and Wellness

Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.

Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.

“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour, allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.

For more information on Dr. Gorman, improving your sleep apnea, and decreasing your chances for dangerous health risks, contact us today.

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