How does sleep apnea affect the body?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can put you at risk of a number of health concerns.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may be at risk of developing a number of other health issues. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have a significant impact on various parts of the body — from your respiratory system and digestion to your heart and nervous system. Read on to find out how sleep apnea affects your overall health and what you can do to treat the condition…

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition which occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse at the back of the throat during sleep, and block the upper airway. This blockage causes air flow to stop and the blood oxygen level to drop. When the blood oxygen levels drop low enough, the brain moves out of deep sleep, causing a partial wakening. If you have sleep apnea, your breathing will repeatedly pause during the night, and your sleep will be interrupted. You are likely to wake up feeling tired, and you may experience daytime drowsiness, as well as a range of other symptoms.

What impact does sleep apnea have on the body?

Sleep apnea can lead to a number of health risks. These include obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Sleep apnea can also affect the brain in various ways. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to have depression than those without the condition. At the same time, those with sleep apnea are also at risk of memory loss, irritability and mental confusion.

Sleep apnea can also worsen the symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is because those who suffer from sleep apnea are essentially deprived of oxygen, which can lead to shortness of breath and other breathing problems.

Individuals with sleep apnea are at greater risk of fatty liver disease, reflux; circulatory and cardiovascular issues; and metabolic syndromes.

What are the risk factors for sleep apnea?

The risk factors for sleep apnea include snoring; weight gain; ageing; a family history of the condition; misaligned teeth, jaw and palate; teeth grinding; polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); menopause, progesterone or estrogen deficiencies; and having a particularly small jaw and thick neck.

What are the treatment options?

Research shows that there is an important connection between oral function and airway conditions. For this reason, a holistic approach to treatment must be taken when addressing and resolving sleep apnea.

Certain behavior modifications can help resolve the condition. These include sleep position training; weight loss; smoking cessation and limited use of sedatives and muscle relaxants.

Oral appliance therapy may also be recommended for the treatment of sleep apnea. This includes the use of mandibular advancement devices or tongue retained devices. One of the most common treatments for breathing disorders is continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). CPAP involves the use of a specially designed mask that covers the nose and mouth, and is connected to a machine with an air hose.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Surgery is usually only recommended when all other treatments have proven unsuccessful.

How can we help?

At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we offer a range of airway and sleep apnea treatments designed to improve your sleep quality and overall health. To find out more about our airway treatments, please have a look here.

To make an appointment to see us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


In honor of Children's Dental Health Month, we're hosting an exciting event about myofunctional therapy, and how your child's breathing could affect their health for the rest of their life. This event will take place at our office on Monday February 26 from 4.30pm
Thanks to environmental changes, children are now being born, and growing up to adulthood with malformed airways and jaws.
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Get more information about myofunctional therapy
for your child
Learn how you can help your child!
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Thanks to environmental changes, children are now being born, and growing up to adulthood with malformed airways and jaws.
Elite dental
Get more information about myofunctional therapy
for your child
Learn how you can help your child!
Check your inbox for an email from us!
Elite dental