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Sleep Apnea And Weight: What’s The Relationship?

May 4, 2021Sleeping0 comments

Losing weight is a challenge on its own. Sleeping well can be another uphill battle. However, fighting both can feel impossible. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects many people around the world. It’s most prominent in overweight populations.

Is there a link between the two? Several studies point toward a close relationship between both disorders. If you’re suffering from OSA and weight issues, you’ll be glad to know there are solutions.

Today, we’ll study how they’re related and the most effective treatments.

Is excess weight behind OSA?

The Sleep Foundation has an extensive article about the two disorders. We’ll visit it in another article, but right now, let’s summarize its pointers. Firstly, it mentions that OSA is mostly prevalent in overweight people.

Excess weight leads to pharyngeal fat—or fat deposits in the neck. This accumulation causes snoring—one of the most common OSA symptoms. Abdominal fat also compresses the chest and lungs, decreasing airflow.

As poor airflow is OSA’s primary cause, the link becomes more noticeable.

Does sleep apnea cause weight gain?

On the other hand, the article also suggests reciprocity between the two disorders. Sleep deprivation decreases leptin levels, which suppresses appetite. On the other hand, it also increases ghrelin, which increases appetite and food cravings.

Therefore, weight gain is a common consequence for people with sleep difficulties. Additionally, OSA decreases someone’s energy throughout the day. It makes it more difficult to keep up with workout routines.

Does losing weight cure it?

Treating OSA often includes lifestyle changes, like losing weight. Reducing fat deposits that cause sleep apnea improves airflow. Similar results come from improving lung volume by losing abdominal fat.

Additionally, losing weight helps fight other OSA symptoms. Irritability, daily fatigue, and similar dysfunctions make it more challenging to lose weight.

While losing weight might not cure OSA for everyone, it’s a valuable treatment nonetheless.

OSA and the cardiovascular system

Finally, we also need to talk about other weight-related complications. Cardiovascular complications are common in overweight people. However, OSA can affect this system as well.

That’s because the fight or flight response triggered by OSA boosts blood pressure and heart rate. While the goal is to open airways, the repetitive cycle causes inflammation. This complication can lead to atherosclerosis, which ties into heart attacks and stroke.

How does OSA treatment work?

Luckily, OSA treatment has received plenty of research as well. Experts have narrowed effective treatments for the condition. Naturally, treatments focus on improving the patient’s airway.

That leads to flexibility regarding treatment options. Lifestyle changes are still outstanding strategies, but two methodologies are more effective.

Yes, weight loss is helpful

The main lifestyle change is losing weight. Of course, that entails several alterations. However, losing excess weight can be crucial to free the airway. Overweight people have considerably reduced lung capacity, which is quite noticeable.

Losing weight is a prominent hurdle, but the results are considerable. We also have to remember other benefits outside OSA. It also improves circulatory health. Since that’s a common OSA consequence, it offers benefits on both fronts.

Continuous positive airway pressure

Also known as CPAP, this treatment is usually the primary recommendation for patients. It’s a device that blows air through the airways during the night. However, it can be uncomfortable to wear the apparatus during the night.

However, oral appliances are also available. Patients can insert a plastic piece into their mouths to keep the throat open during sleep.

Personalized treatments

Nevertheless, we must also remember that every patient is different. Some might benefit from CPAP solely—especially if they’re not overweight. As OSA occurs during sleep, many don’t realize they suffer from it.

The best strategy is to go to the doctor if you’re experiencing snoring and fatigue. It’ll allow professionals to assess your condition and find the best treatment. For instance, surgery can be an option for severe cases.

The holistic takeaway

As sleep is our lives’ foundation, we can’t overlook anything that could disrupt it. While sleep apnea can feel like a curse, its treatment can benefit multiple areas. Losing weight is always a good idea.

However, we can’t stress enough the need to go to a professional. Don’t fall for the idea that snoring is normal. It’s still worthy of consideration. Finding a problem early makes it easier to solve.


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