Patients at risk for sleep apnea experience less time in the deep levels of sleep, reducing the body’s natural capacity for healing and pain control. As a consequence, these processes work less effectively.
Anesthetics, analgesic, and sedative drugs produce increased muscle relaxation of the throat and tongue, and in someone at risk for sleep apnea, may create an airway blockage.
Sedatives, narcotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs can actually worsen the breathing disturbances and arousal conditions that occur with sleep apnea. These substances cause the soft tissues in the throat to sag and diminish the body's ability to inhale.
People with sleep apnea must notify all healthcare providers, including surgeons, about their condition and the potential risks of being sedated before a procedure.