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What Happens with Untreated Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can cause some serious health problems including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and more.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that even when treated can have some negative side effects. 

3 Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is very common, especially among overweight males over 40 years of age. In all forms of the disorder, breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form of the disorder. It occurs when the throat muscles relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway.
  • Central Sleep Apnea is much less common, and is usually a sign of other health problems. This occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome is extremely rare. This is when a patient suffers from both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

The most common signs that you might have sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Stopping breathing repeatedly during sleep
  • Waking up with a morning headache or a dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Irritability

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should speak with a doctor right away. Early treatment is key to keeping sleep apnea under control.

Problems with Sleep Apnea

There are some serious health issues that can arise with untreated sleep apnea. These include:

  • High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease — When sleep is regularly disrupted, patients can suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease. In fact, people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea are more likely than the average person to suffer from a heart attack.

The heart problems that arise from sleep apnea are due to the sudden drops in blood oxygen level. When breathing stops during sleep, it’s like your heart is suffocating. The blood oxygen level drops low and then back up again once breathing resumes. This puts a serious strain on the cardiovascular system and can lead to extensive heart problems, especially when left untreated over time.

  • Type 2 Diabetes — Sleep apnea is often linked to obesity, and the symptoms can go hand-in-hand. LIke obesity, people with untreated sleep apnea have a higher than average chance of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. 


  • Metabolic Syndrome — Metabolic Syndrome is a disorder that includes high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased circumference around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. When untreated, sleep apnea can cause metabolic syndrome which is also linked to heart disease.


  • Complications with Medical Procedures — When patients with sleep apnea are sedated lying on their backs for medical procedures, some serious complications can occur. If you have sleep apnea and are undergoing surgery, you should let your doctor know ahead of time.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, we are committed to helping our patients live their best lives. If you are suffering from the effects of untreated sleep apnea, our highly trained team will work with you to create a plan to get you back to a good night’s sleep. This plan might include jaw surgery, and if it does our board-certified oral surgeons will take excellent care of you. We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele, Utah. Contact us today for your free consultation!

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