Losing Weight Can Have a Major Impact on Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a devastating disorder that will likely impact the affected individual for the rest of their life. However, there are ways to lessen the severity of the condition, thereby improving your symptoms and quality of life.
In addition to utilizing trusted methods such as a CPAP machine or an oral appliance, losing weight has been proven to have a dramatic effect on the disorder. In fact, losing a significant amount of weight could potentially cure the disorder. Excess weight is considered a major risk factor for developing sleep apnea and progressing the condition.
The Link Between Sleep Apnea & Your Weight
Obstructive sleep apnea, also called OSA, occurs when the excess tissues in the back of your throat relax, which causes a temporary pause in your breathing. Then, a signal is sent to your brain to startle you just enough to start breathing again. This probably won’t wake you up, but it’s enough to prevent you from getting the restorative sleep you need to feel rested and ready for your day.
Excess tissues in your throat play a huge role in the severity of the condition because as you gain weight, fatty tissues can further block your airway. According to one study, 25 percent of the adult population have OSA, and as high as 45 percent of obese people have the condition. Furthermore, patients with mild OSA who gain 10 percent of their body weight are six times more likely to progress the severity of their condition.
As you can see, it’s vitally important to maintain a healthy weight to prevent the progression of the disorder and begin reversing its effects.
Sleep Apnea & Weight Gain: It’s a Two-Way Street
As we know, weight gain can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea and it can also increase the severity of the condition. However, did you know that sleep apnea can cause you to gain weight? Sleep apnea is characterized by at least five pauses in breathing per hour.
The continuous interruption in breathing places undue stress on the body and has been associated with a variety of health conditions. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body inhibits leptin production, a hormone that gives you the sensation of feeling full. As a result, you’ll likely eat more than you would normally and reach for foods that are convenient rather than preparing a well-rounded meal.
It’s important to note that not everyone who is overweight will develop sleep apnea. Even though it is a major risk factor for the disorder, anyone can have the condition. Slender patients with narrow airways have also been diagnosed with sleep apnea. That’s why it’s crucial to get a sleep study so we can have a clear diagnosis and start treatment right away.
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
Sleep apnea has been associated with a systemic inflammatory response, which is why it’s linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Similar to sleep apnea, obesity is a major risk factor for the conditions. Comorbidities associated with sleep apnea and obesity include:
High blood pressure - The consistent pauses in your breath during sleep causes blood oxygen levels to drop and increases blood pressure. This strains the cardiovascular system and over time can increase your risk for high blood pressure. As blood pressure increases, so does sleep apnea severity.
Chronic fatigue - Being tired makes it more challenging to muster up the energy to participate in a regular exercise routine. Since exercise aids in restful sleep and energy production, a sedentary lifestyle can create a harmful loop of being too tired to exercise, weight gain, and aggravating OSA.
Fluid retention - If you’re prone to fluid retention in your limbs, when you transition into a recumbent position, the fluid will redeposit itself. One place it travels is to your neck, which in turn increases the severity of sleep apnea. Regular exercise combats excess fluid accumulation and decreases the number of sleep apnea events.
Exercise will not only treat sleep apnea, but also the consequences associated with the condition such as cardiovascular disorders, glucose intolerance, and fatigue. In one study, data shows that a ten percent reduction in body mass is associated with a 30 percent reduction in sleep apnea events.
Weight loss also improves muscle tone, which is evident in soft tissues in the throat as well. Excess tissue in the throat is associated with a narrow airway. If muscles in the throat are toned, your airway will be less likely to collapse and you’ll experience fewer sleep apnea events.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does losing weight help alleviate sleep apnea?
Losing weight reduces pressure on your lungs and airways, which can help with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Toning the muscles in your neck and abdomen can help improve airway traction and prevent airway collapse while you sleep. With enough weight loss, some patients can eliminate the need for nightly sleep apnea treatment.
Does sleep apnea cause weight gain?
While there’s no direct link between sleep apnea and weight gain, this breathing disorder could impact habits that can have an effect on your weight. For example, because sleep apnea leaves you exhausted during the day, you may neglect your plans to exercise or cook healthy meals.
Over time, these habits can lead to weight gain and other health complications. This amounts to another reason why it’s essential to seek treatment for your sleep apnea as soon as possible.
Does sleep apnea affect my metabolism?
Sleep apnea can lead to spikes in your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and hormones, all of which can significantly impact your metabolism. This is another way sleep apnea may contribute to your weight. Seeking sleep apnea treatment early can help prevent changes in your metabolism and related weight gain.
What can happen if sleep apnea goes untreated?
Sleep apnea doesn’t just make you tired during the day. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to several health complications, such as:
- Increased blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Heart problems
- Heightened stress levels
It’s important to seek treatment if you suspect you have sleep apnea. Schedule an appointment at our McKinney office by calling (972) 542-9129. Dr. Lawrence will likely recommend a sleep study so he can effectively treat your symptoms.
Contact Dr. Lawrence For Sleep Apnea Treatment in Mckinney, TX
Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that can negatively impact your entire well-being. Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lawrence by calling (972) 542-9129. We'll explain all the ways you can improve your unique condition and get a quality night's rest.