Have A Great Relationship With Your Doctor

Dangers Of Untreated Sleep Apnea

by Terry Wilson

If a doctor has diagnosed you with sleep apnea, they have probably told you if you have a mild, moderate, or severe condition. Your doctor bases your rating on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which measures how often your breathing pauses in an hour. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may need sleep apnea treatment. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a wide variety of issues up to and including death. Here are a few dangers of not treating your condition.


It does not matter if you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. Repeated waking throughout the night can cause you to have daytime fatigue. Chronic daytime fatigue is more than an occasional yawn or dry, itchy eyes. When you suffer from chronic fatigue, you may experience the following:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Bad decision making
  • Irritability
  • Depression

You may also find yourself craving and eating foods high in calories. You often generate these cravings in your efforts to feed your body sugar or caffeine to offset your fatigue. 

But daytime fatigue can also increase your risk of automotive and work-related accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2017 (the last year statistics were available), approximately 91,000 accidents involved drowsy drivers. These accidents led to about 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths. Unfortunately, the actual number of fatigue-related accidents is underreported due to the difficulties investigators have determining them at the scene of the accidents.

Cardiac Issues

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and even heart failure. When you have OSA, your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your upper airways while you sleep. This blockage causes a pause in your breathing, usually followed by waking and gasping for breath. This action causes your body to release stress hormones. Over time, the increase in stress hormones in your bloodstream can lead to heart disease. 


While sleep apnea does not cause diabetes, the condition can make it much more difficult for you to control your diabetes. This inability is because the pauses in your breathing caused by your sleep apnea increase carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream.

Higher levels of carbon dioxide can lead to higher levels of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means your body is not effectively using the insulin it is making or the insulin you are taking. Failure to effectively process the insulin means higher blood sugar levels while you sleep and upon waking. 

You can find sleep apnea treatment at a sleep apnea treatment clinic. They can assist you with choosing the correct treatment methods for your condition.