If you’ve been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, you should either be seeking treatment or on CPAP therapy already. Let me paint you an all too common scenario - you’ve got your machine and mask purchased and after a couple of weeks on therapy, you stop using it. You see it on your bedside table every day but ignore it. Days turn to weeks and weeks turn into months. Sounds familiar? This scenario happens too often.
What happens if you leave your Apnea untreated?
Surprisingly, a couple of nights off your CPAP is actually okay. The benefits of consistent use persist for a couple of days. For example, if you’re travelling or have a cold and took a couple of nights off, you’ll be happy to know that there is still residual benefit when you are not using it for a few days. Continued therapy reduces swelling of soft tissues during sleep making it easier for you to breathe when you are taking a break. However, danger lurks when it’s left long term.
Some would argue you won't die from Sleep Apnea, but like smoking or AIDS - people won't die from it, but likely from the complications that come from smoking or AIDS. Keep reading to find the effects, risks and possible consequences are if you don’t use your CPAP as directed.
Return of common symptoms
Not using your therapy means the return of the classic symptoms - constant fatigue, low energy, headaches and lethargy. It's only a matter of time these dreaded symptoms will creep back into your day to day life. It will affect the way you carry out work and social activities and limit your capabilities and negatively impacting your overall quality of life.
Risk of sudden death
Untreated Sleep Apnea will increase the risk of sudden death or sudden cardiac arrest and the consequences are not reversible. The sudden death is caused by abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmia which are erratic and disorganized impulses from the heart's ventricles. This means the heart is unable to pump blood and death can occur.
Risk of premature death
Those who leave their OSA untreated for 10 years or 30 years will lead to shorter lives. Lack of treatment means you'll face more than 3 times the risk of premature death.
Risk of stroke
The low levels of oxygen available to the body and brain and the high blood pressure of the heart working harder put you at 2-3 times higher risk for having a stroke.
There are endless reasons why doctors prescribe CPAP - they know what they're talking about and it works. No matter how uncomfortable it is, give it a second, third or fourth try. The take-home message here is that untreated OSA produces long term, cumulative exposure to advert effects that is harmful to your health and may cause death.
There are heaping benefits of being on therapy and it shouldn't be ignored. Speak to your health professional for more information or guidance to get the proper care you need to adhere to CPAP therapy.
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