What Is Sleep Apnea & Can Weight Loss Cure It?

a woman sleeping in a bed.

Just when you think you’ve got enough things to worry about every day, there’s another sneaky disease that can creep up on you without you even knowing. The thing is, this illness called sleep apnea shows its main symptom when you’re asleep. It’s pretty scary, right?

On top of this, there is word out suggesting that being overweight increases your chances of developing it. But how true is this, and can weight loss cure it? Read our article to find out!

This article will help answer these questions:

  • What is sleep apnea?
  • And can weight loss cure sleep apnea? 


What Is Sleep Apnea? 


Sleep Apnea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when your breathing is interrupted during sleep. This happens because the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much, causing them to block your airway. 

This results in periods of shallow or paused breathing, known as apneas, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. These apneas can occur multiple times throughout the night and disrupt your sleep, leading to fatigue and other health problems. 

There are three main types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type and occurs when the throat muscles relax too much, blocking the airway. 
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and happens when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. 
  • Complex sleep apnea, also known as Treatment-emergent central,  is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. 


What Are The 4 Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea? 


The four most common symptoms of sleep apnea in a person include: 

  • loud snoring
  • frequently waking up during the night 
  • Inconsistent breathing while sleeping 
  • unusual snorting, gasping, or choking noises

If you or someone close to you notices these symptoms, it’s important to speak with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. 


What Is The Main Cause Of Sleep Apnea?


According to WebMD, more than half of individuals who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight or obese.

To be classified as overweight or obese, the BMI (Body Mass Index) must be 25 or higher.

Obesity can cause excess fat to build up in the neck and throat area, which can put pressure on the airway and lead to obstructive sleep apnea.

Other factors that may contribute include:

  • alcohol
  • hypothyroidism
  • allergies
  • narrow throat
  • deviated septum
  • smoking

Central and complex sleep apnea have other causes, but doctors have not yet identified one main cause for these types. If you suspect you have CSA, it’s best to consult with a certified doctor to pinpoint causes and treatment. 


How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?


A diagnosis typically begins with a physical exam and a medical history review by a doctor.

If necessary, the doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist who can conduct further tests and evaluations.

The most common way to diagnose sleep apnea is through an overnight sleep study called a polysomnography. This test records various body functions while you sleep, including brain waves, eye movement, heart rate, and breathing patterns.

Another option is a home test, where the patient takes home a portable monitor to record their breathing patterns while they sleep in their own bed.

Once diagnosed, treatment options will be discussed with the doctor to determine the best course of action for each individual.

Some common treatments for sleep apnea include:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy
  • Oral appliances
  • Surgery to remove excess tissue in the throat or widen the airway
  • Weight loss and lifestyle changes


Can Weight Loss Cure It?


Weight loss and sleep apnea have long been seen as interconnected. To reference the statement of WebMD again, a BMI of over 25kg is a risk factor for sleep apnea.

But can weight loss cure this disease?

According to the American Thoracic Society, losing just 5-10% of your body weight can significantly improve or even eliminate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Another study by the Oivauni Sleep Clinic in Finland showed that overweight individuals showed a drastic improvement in the symptoms they experienced and did not develop any further health problems during the year in which they were coached toward a healthier lifestyle.

Dr Henri Tuomilehto, the head of the clinic, stated, “It only takes a few years for sleep apnea to develop into a very dangerous illness. It normally happens due to an increase in weight. The result of our study shows that you can halt the development of the disease by changing your lifestyle.”

As you can see, weight loss can have a significant impact and its related health risks. However, it is not necessarily a cure for all individuals.


Find Out More


For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of Slender Wonder’s doctors. Their medical advice, along with a medical weight loss program, can help you improve your overall health and effectively manage this disease.

In addition to weight loss, it’s important to also consider other treatment options such as CPAP therapy, oral appliances, and surgery if necessary. A combination of treatments may be the most effective approach for managing sleep apnea.

Don’t let sleep apnea go untreated – take control of your health and seek professional help to find the best treatment plan for you.

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