Weight Loss May Cure Sleep Apnea

Recently there has been a great amount of attention focused on the impact that weight loss and weight loss surgery can have on obesity-related sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, can cause a number of difficulties including poor sleep from frequently waking up, loud snoring, headaches and weight gain (see the article “Sleep Apnea and Weight Gain” for more information). Although sleep apnea does not only affect people who are overweight or obese, it appears that these people are more inclined to suffer from this condition.

The severity of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, can be successfully reduced with weight loss.

The severity of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, can be successfully reduced with weight loss.

The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Although in many cases the symptoms of OSA, such as loud snoring, restless sleep, and sleepiness during the day, are not life-threatening, people who suffer from severe OSA are at risk of developing a type of congestive heart failure called cor pulmonale. It is also estimated that people who suffer from sleep apnea have a 30% higher risk of heart attack or premature death.

It is estimated that 95% of people who suffer from sleep apnea are overweight or obese. It is no surprise then that the most common and successful treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is weight loss. Both weight loss by conventional methods, such as a calorie-restricted diet and exercise, and by weight loss surgery have shown to drastically reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea in overweight and obese patients.

The fact that a number of studies have found that weight loss may cure sleep apnea is positive news for people who suffer from this condition. Of all the methods for treating sleep apnea, weight loss and making other positive lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and getting more exercise, have the most dramatic effects. People who also undergo weight loss surgery typically have a noticeable improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms.

If you are a loud snorer or your partner keeps you up at night with their nasal serenades, you may want to explore whether you have any of the other signs of sleep apnea. Snoring, even really loud snoring does not necessarily mean a person has sleep apnea, but it is often one of the easiest symptoms to diagnose. If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor for a check up. Your doctor will likely arrange for you to take a test called a polysomnography, which is a painless test that monitors your respiration rate, blood oxygen levels and other factors while you sleep. Often this test can be done overnight in the comfort of your own bed at home.

There is no doubt that losing weight has numerous positive impacts on your overall health, and improvements in sleep apnea are yet another good reason to shed those extra pounds. Being overweight or obese is not always the cause of sleep apnea, but studies support that losing weight will go a far way to improving this potentially life-threatening condition. If you would like to read some of these studies on your own, here is a couple to peruse:

Other Related Posts and Articles you May Find Interesting: “Restless Leg Syndrome” and “Sleep and Weight Loss“.


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