The 1 Health Condition That Should Not Be Ignored By Anyone

The 1 Health Condition That Should Not Be Ignored By Anyone
Photo by Fabian Oelkers / Unsplash

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)  is a life-threatening sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing that happen intermittently and frequently during sleep leading to oxygen deprivation.

  • Sleep apnea is common, yet severely underdiagnosed, and is directly linked to an increased risk of chronic disease and premature death.
  • Sleep apnea drives weight gain, memory loss, high blood pressure, ADHD, insulin resistance, and an overactive stress response.
  • The gold standard of treatment is a CPAP mask; however, new innovating treatments are on the rise and here to help.

Sleep apnea causes a literal deprivation of oxygen during sleep and it should not be ignored or taken lightly. On a bright note, sleep apnea is a treatable condition that is usually overlooked when finding root causes for chronic diseases.

Messy bed and closed blinds
Photo by Quin Stevenson / Unsplash

Sleep is essential for an energetic, fulfilling life. It regulates brain function, impacts mood, and is when the body heals. It is critical for overall health and wellness. High-quality sleep is at the cornerstone of optimal, vibrant functional health.

Sleep deprivation negativity impacts metabolism, fat storage, focus, energy, and hormonal balance. Over time, poor sleep can cause weakened immune function, mood disorders, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and shorter life expectancy.

This article provides an opportunity to raise awareness of sleep apnea, encourage people to seek help, and denormalize acceptance of the disorder based on its commonality and prevalence.

Before the article starts, I must note that the sleep apnea is highly underdiagnosed and a hazardous, life-threatening condition. If you or someone you know has difficulty sleeping or disturbances in sleep, seek professional medical help for a sleep study exam and treatment.

Key Sleep Apnea Statistics

  • 25 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
  • 1 in 50 people have undiagnosed sleep apnea.
  • Individuals with sleep apnea are 6 times likely to get into a car accident.
  • Individuals with undiagnosed sleep apnea are 4 times likely to have a stroke than those who treat their sleep apnea.
  • More than 263,000 kids per year undergo tonsillectomies mostly due to the presence of sleep apnea in these kids that is caused by their tonsils obstructing their airway.
  • 1/2 of adults with sleep apnea also have hypertension.
  • 38,000 deaths occur yearly related to cardiovascular problems that are connected to untreated sleep apnea.
  • An estimated 6 million Americans have moderate to severe sleep apnea that may require a late night trip to the emergency room.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Explained

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), also known as, sleep apnea, is a serious, potentially life-threatening medical condition that causes poor quality sleep due to uncontrollable pauses in breathing, taking shallow breaths during sleep, and suddenly waking up startled.

Obstructive sleep apnea is alarming and more than just heavy snoring. An individual with sleep apnea might repeatedly stop breathing up to 100 times an hour during the night without even being aware. These breaks in normal breathing are detrimental and lead to less oxygen flow to the brain, kidneys, heart, and other major organs.

Sleep apnea triggers individuals to wake up suddenly and gasp for air to reopen the airways causing gnarly snoring, choking noises, excessive daytime sleepiness, and irritability or anxiety during the day.

Over time, sleep apnea increases the risk for chronic disease; however, it can be prevented and managed with proper treatment and lifestyle modifications once the root cause is discovered.

Pathophysiology: How Sleep Apnea Occurs

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by recurrent collapse or obstruction of the pharyngeal airway during sleep leading to hypoxia, breathing disruptions, and sleep disturbances. These disruptions in breathing result in too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen in the blood.

This leads to constant sympathetic nervous system activation. The stress response goes into overdrive resulting in fragmented sleep and fluctuations between wakefulness, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Apneic events can occur more than 100 times per hour and they typically last 20-40 seconds.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

It is important to point out that sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of sex, age, or body type. Yes, both children and adults can suffer from sleep apnea.

  • Excessive alcohol or sedative use.
  • Chronic nasal congestion.
  • Male sex.
  • Being overweight.
  • Insulin resistance + diabetes.
  • Family history.
  • Narrow airway.

Signs + Symptoms

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition and an extreme form of sleep deprivation that causes individuals to wake up several times throughout the night leading to the inability to sleep and breathe. This causes oxygen deprivation and an unawareness that this is even happening.

  • Gnarly loud snoring that is followed by silence- pauses in both breathing and snoring that commonly wake up the partner.
  • Daytime fatigue and excessive drowsiness even after getting a full night's rest; constantly feeling tired.
  • Waking up abruptly choking or gasping for air due to breathing cessation.
  • Night sweats, frequent urination, or panic attacks at night.
  • Headaches during the day.
  • Irritability, depression, and anxiety during the day.
  • High blood pressure and blood sugar imbalances.

Normal sleep, overall quality of life, and activities of daily living are usually disrupted. Over time, sleep apnea can lead to complications, such as, insulin resistance, hypertension, the inability to lose weight, memory loss, chronic fatigue, hunger, sugar cravings, attention deficit, and cardiovascular disease.


Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by your primary healthcare provider. Usually patients present with complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring that wakes up their partner, and waking up choking. High blood pressure and blood sugar imbalance may also be found upon assessment.

The gold standard test to confirm whether or not an individual has sleep apnea is a polysomnogram, a sleep study. The exam consists of multiple tests that record and transmit physical activities during sleep. Breathing and oxygen levels are continually assessed throughout the night.


A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea. It provides continuous airflow throughout the night via a face mask. In less severe cases, a mouth guard can be used to alleviate symptoms, and in more severe cases, surgery may be warranted.

Individuals who are overweight or obese should aim to lose 10% of their body weight at first to see if symptoms subside. Typically, obstructive sleep apnea can be prevented and treated with weight loss.

The most important part of treatment is for individuals who receive the order for a CPAP device must wear it every night to relieve symptoms and prevent further complications.

New innovating treatments, such as, Inspire are on the rise to help better effectively treat sleep apnea. Inspire is an implanted device under the skin in the chest, controlled by a small handheld sleep remote, that delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, allowing the airway to remain open during sleep and reduce snoring.

Lifestyle Modalities for Prevention

  • Be a healthy weight.
  • Consume a diet rich in fiber to promote optimal digestion and blood sugar regulation.
  • Eat adequate amounts of healthy fats and proteins ensures ample nutrient intake, satiety, and reduced sugar cravings.
  • Choose foods like olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, cafe-free eggs, and wild caught salmon.
  • Perform moderate to intense exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. If unable to set a half hour to an hour aside, try out “exercise snacks”- quick 10 minute workouts 3 times a day.

Critical Keys to Success

The most important action when it comes to the sleep apnea diagnosis is wear the CPAP device every night as prescribed. Breathing and oxygenation are essential to life and being alive. Wearing the CPAP mask at night ensures high quality, well-oxygenated sleep.

The brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs need oxygen to function properly. Chronic oxygen deprivation night after night, week after week, month after month... year after year... can lead to serious complications, even premature death.

Side sleeping decreases snoring and the collapse of the airway. Maintaining a healthy weight and neck circumference helps reduce abnormal relaxation of throat muscles. Exercise boosts insulin sensitivity, promotes a healthy weight, and enhances metabolic flexibility.

If the CPAP mask is too uncomfortable or you are having difficulty sleeping with it, reach out to your primary care provider to seek other treatment options. Also, educate yourself and do your own research on sleep apnea and innovating treatments to take charge of your own health.

Final Thoughts

Obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable pauses in breathing and suddenly waking up startled due to abnormal relaxation of muscles in the throat. Sleep apnea is very severely under diagnosed and individuals are unaware that they even have it.

The most definitive way to know if you have sleep apnea is to do a sleep study. It is of the upmost importance to wear the CPAP mask every night as prescribed. If you snore loudly, have daytime sleepiness, or excessive tiredness, reach out to your primary care provider asap and take charge of your health today!

Thank you for reading this post.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.