What is the Link Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea?

What is the Link Between Obesity and Sleep Apnea?

Oct 01, 2022

Excess weight not only causes sleep apnea but it can also make the symptoms worse. Not taking enough sleep can result in weight gain. Even numerous studies have shown that losing weight helps with sleep apnea. Therefore, if you are struggling with obesity and sleep apnea, it is vital to understand the relationship between the two.

Why Does Obesity Cause Sleep Apnea?

Statistics state that one in three adults in the United States is obese. One in five Americans is struggling with sleep apnea. When anyone has excess body weight, it increases pressure on the upper airway. This reduces neuromuscular control from the fatty deposits and reduces lung volume. It makes the person hard to breathe.

How Excess Weight Causes Sleep Apnea?

Being overweight increases fat deposits in the neck – known as pharyngeal fat. It can block the upper airway during sleep. This leads to snoring. Moreover, increased abdominal size comprises the chest wall and minimizes lung volume. It results in the collapse of the upper airway while sleeping.

Relationship Between Weight Gain and Sleep Apnea

Obesity and obstructive sleep apnea are closely related to each other. Even many studies have found a relationship between the risk of OSA and increased body weight. Another 2009 study has found that treating obesity minimizes the risk of OSA and treating OSA reduces obesity.

Obstructive sleep apnea is treatable using continuous positive airway pressure therapy. CPAP is a sleep apnea treatment that uses airflow to keep the airways open while sleeping.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment functions well. However, it does work for everyone. One research has found that 50% or more individuals that use CPAP do not adhere to the treatment. A great alternative to CPAP machines is oral appliances. These plastic devices fit into the mouth well. This Sleep apnea treatment in Calgary prevents tissues in the back throat and tongue from collapsing over the airway during sleep.

Both oral appliances and CPAP treatment are not cures for sleep apnea. The only method to get rid of the condition is to lose weight or get surgery. Surgery helps in eradicating the additional tissue from the throat and palette effectively.

When addressing obesity and sleep apnea, there are also important points to consider such as waist circumference, neck circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. A waist equal to or more than 40 inches (men) and 35 inches (women) is also a risk factor.

Neck circumference of more than 16 inches (women) and 17 inches (men) increases the risk of sleep apnea and obesity. The waist-to-hip ratio is determined by dividing the waist measurement by the hip measurement. The higher ratio means more risk for sleep apnea and obesity-related disorders.

Can Losing Weight Cure Sleep Apnea?

Around 60 to 90% of adults struggling from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. One 2012 study stated that besides CPAP, sticking to a good lifestyle and a well-balanced diet can also help to manage OSA.

Body weight reduction minimizes fatty deposits in the tongue and neck. It limits airflow and reduces abdominal fat. This further makes the airway less prone to collapse during sleep.

Weight loss can also lower signs like daytime sleepiness, neuropsychiatric dysfunctions, and irritation. Losing weight by 10 to 15% lowers the risk of obstructive sleep apnea by 50% in moderately obese patients. Numerous patients with sleep apnea require additional therapies to improve OSA.

Although losing weight may not cure obstructive sleep apnea, it can help you increase energy levels, decrease discomfort, increase mobility, and provide a relaxed sleep.

If you are dealing with other sleep apnea signs like lack of energy and constant sleepiness during the daytime, losing weight can be hard. If you find it hard to lose weight with lifestyle changes alone, bariatric surgery can help. It produces a good outcome in minimizing the severity of sleep apnea. You can also consult the general dentist in NW Calgary at Springhill Dental.

Weight loss increases insulin resistance and manages type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular health, and high blood pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea even increases the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

Remember, sleep apnea is not like pneumonia. It means you cannot try just one treatment and expect your signs to eliminate. Only a sleep apnea dentist can help.

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