How serious is sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Stockton, Iowa on .
My wife says I have sleep apnea. I am 26 years old and I get sleep at night and I am not overly tired throughout the day if I get enough. I do snore really loudly though and she says I stop breathing for small periods of time throughout the night. I keep trying to have a sleep study but the timing never seems to work out. How important is it to get checked for sleep apnea? Is it serious?

Doctors Answers (6)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 7/29/2013

Sleep apnea may be very serious. It depends on how many times you stop breathing and how low the oxygen level drops. In order to start breathing again, the obstruction must be relieved and this can only happen if the brain arouses. An arousal is not an awakening, it means that for several seconds our brain waves appear as though we were awake. These arousals are associated with a brief elevation of blood pressure, blood sugar and cortisol. Eventually, one often develops high blood pressure which can lead to strokes and heart attacks, that is serious. The low oxygen level is like flying around in an airplane all night with the windows down. This damages the heart and brain and may lead to memory loss. Fortunately, sleep apnea is easy to treat.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 6/24/2013

Short answer is yes, sleep apnea is serious. These pauses in your breathing may result in lack of oxygen in your blood circulation and over time "oxygen debt" will accumulate. This will affect vital organs and systems. Preventing brain and heart conditions among others is the goal and the reason to be diagnosed early. This is not an emergency but you should not wait several months to have a sleep study done. I am sure that your local sleep center will try to accommodate your schedule. If not - try to find a doctor and sleep lab that has long and flexible hours as you may need several visits to address all the issues.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 6/21/2013

Sleep Apnea can be very serious and in some cases leads to death. Untreated, Sleep Apnea can increase your chances of heart attack, stroke, and exacerbate high blood pressure. Other complications due to sleep apnea can be memory loss, erectile dysfunction, headaches and sleepiness during the day. It's very important to have this evaluated.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 6/19/2013

Sleep apnea is life threatening. So yes, please seek evaluation.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 6/19/2013

Sleep apnea has a potential of causing serious health concerns, such as high blood pressure, heart problems and stroke. Sleep apnea can also cause significant daytime drowsiness which is bad for driving and operating machinery. My advise is to find the time for that sleep study you keep putting off.

Faryl K. Hart, DDS
Answered on: 6/19/2013

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to increased risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes and several other health problems. 90% of loud snorers have sleep apnea. Another staggering statistic is that 1 out of 2 admissions from the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack also have sleep apnea! So please, take the time to have the in-office sleep study test done and then follow up appropriately.