Sleep apnea affects millions of adults in America and can have severe health consequences. One way sleep apnea negatively impacts health is by accelerating aging for patients when left untreated. Studies show that proper diagnosis and treatment may reverse its adverse effects on the aging process.
Understanding Age Acceleration
Age acceleration is a process where a person’s body ages more quickly than what is typical for most people. Accelerated aging can occur in people for different reasons, like smoking or poor nutrition. Sleep apnea is another factor that can cause age acceleration.
When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing is interrupted during sleep. This can lead to oxygen deprivation in the body, damaging cells and tissues over time. The lack of oxygen also causes inflammation, which further accelerates aging.
The Effects of Age Acceleration
Age acceleration caused by sleep apnea can seriously affect a person’s health. An increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes all age the body more quickly. Age acceleration from sleep apnea can also cause cognitive decline and memory loss.
Other aging issues caused by sleep apnea can include the appearance of aging on the facial features, including wrinkling and sagging. The deterioration of cells and excess fatigue both contribute to premature aging.
Treating Sleep Apnea
The good news is that treating sleep apnea can reverse thesigns of early age acceleration. When sleep apnea symptoms decrease, the patient’s health improves. New healthy cells can replace some of the damaged cells.
The most common treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which helps keep the airways open during sleep. Other treatments include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and avoiding alcohol before bedtime. Surgery may also be an option for some people.
For patients who want a convenient and noninvasive treatment, a dental appliance holds the jaw in a position that improves airflow. Many patients find positive results with a custom mandibular device worn during sleep.
Improve the Signs of Aging
If you experience sleep apnea symptoms, visit your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis. Early intervention can help reduce the effects of age acceleration and improve your overall health. With proper treatment, you can reduce the signs of aging and enjoy a healthier life.
Marianna Kovitch, DMD, is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (DABDSM). Dr. Kovitch received her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia after earning her Bachelor of Science with honors in chemistry. She also received recognition in research publications for her work in biochemistry from Georgia State University. Dr. Kovitch has been an active board member of the Academy of General Dentistry since 2013 and has contributed to the development of dentistry excellence in Georgia.
Marianna Kovitch, D.M.D., DABDSM • Atlanta Smiles
404.262.7733 • www.goodnightsleepga.com