When Does Sleep Apnea Become Serious?

Categories: Sleep Apnea, Snoring

Dangers of Obstructive Sleep ApneaSleep apnea severity varies from person to person.  It’s completely normal to experience breathing pauses up to five times per hour for adults and once per hour for kids. These are thought to be part of normal sleep. It’s always best to consult with experts like Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South in Houston, TX.

If breathing issues occur more frequently, a patient can request a sleep study to diagnose possible Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The following categories are used to classify sleep apnea:

  • Mild: 5-14 events per hour
  • Moderate: 15-30 events per hour
  • Severe: More than 30 events per hour

It is also crucial to monitor the level of oxygen deprivation that occurs with these events. If oxygen levels fall below 90%, this is called hypoxemia.

In the setting of heart or lung disease, the oxygen levels may drop drastically with each apnea event. As a result, there can be greater stress placed on the body overnight. Chronic oxygen deprivation may lead to both short-term and long-term effects.

Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?

It’s very unlikely that the breath pauses of sleep apnea could cause death directly, and you won’t just stop breathing. However, OSA can increase your risk of potentially fatal health conditions, some of which may cause sudden death.

Short-Term Risks

Breathing cessation can provoke a cardiac arrhythmia, and it can also lead to atrial fibrillation, heart attack, and even stroke.

These events seem to increase toward morning, which is incidentally when REM sleep occurs more and when more sleep apnea events can occur. Studies show the risk of sudden death during sleep between midnight and 6 a.m. is about 2.5 times higher for people with OSA.

The good news is that treatment with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine and other solutions, such as dental appliances, appears to lower the risk of most serious complications including long-term cardiac problems.

Chronic Risks

Evidence shows that long-term sleep-disordered breathing can have important health consequences. It may increase the incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

It can also lead to depression and memory problems and increase daytime sleepiness and the risk of accidents.

So, while OSA isn’t fatal on its own, many of the problems it can lead to can threaten your life. That makes treating sleep apnea important for protecting your health.

Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South will be able to help you determine if an oral appliance is right for you.

Locations (Tap to open in Google Maps):

2443 S Galveston Ave
Pearland, Texas 77581

Pearland Phone: 281-485-4829

1769 S. Friendswood Dr. Ste 107
Friendswood, TX 77546
Friendswood Phone: 281-482-1275