Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

I'm Overweight: Is That the Root Cause of My Sleep Apnea?

I'm Overweight: Is That the Root Cause of My Sleep Apnea?

Carrying excess weight is a major risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea. Most individuals with sleep apnea are overweight, and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop sleep apnea. 

While not everyone with sleep apnea is overweight, weight loss is known to improve sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea and are overweight, it’s crucial to work with a health care provider on strategies to bring your weight down to a healthier range. 

Dedicated to providing the best internal medicine care in Tarzana, California, Samuel I. Fink, MD, FACP, is in an excellent position to help you shed extra pounds, which can have a positive impact on your sleep apnea.

The connection between weight and sleep apnea

While being overweight increases the risk of sleep apnea, it isn’t the only risk factor, and a small percentage (3%) of people who are normal weight have sleep apnea. However, there are several ways carrying excess weight boosts your risk for sleep apnea. 

When you have excess body fat, it accumulates throughout the body, including areas like your neck. The extra fatty tissue can narrow your airway, making it more vulnerable to collapsing or becoming blocked while you sleep. 

This blockage is what causes the characteristic snoring and gasping for air in sleep apnea. What’s more, fat around your midsection can affect lung capacity and the ability to breathe deeply, which can contribute to sleep apnea symptoms. 

Bidirectional nature of weight and sleep apnea 

Weight and sleep apnea have a bidirectional connection. Not only can excess weight contribute to sleep apnea development, but the poor sleep quality and intermittent oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can make losing weight more challenging. 

Sleep apnea can disrupt the balance of hunger and satiety hormones, causing you to feel more hungry during the day and subsequently eat more calories. Sleep apnea also increases daytime fatigue and reduces the motivation for physical activity. This creates a vicious cycle.

Benefits of weight management

Weight loss can improve sleep apnea, and losing weight is considered a key component to managing the condition. Research shows that losing 5%-10% of your body weight can significantly improve sleep apnea. For someone who is 220 pounds, that’s 11-22 pounds. 

In some cases, sleep apnea resolves completely in people who’ve lost a significant amount of weight. Weight loss can reduce the amount of fatty tissue in the neck area and at the base of the tongue. 

Additionally, overall health improvements linked with weight loss, such as reduced blood pressure and improved heart health, can positively impact sleep quality.

A holistic treatment approach

While weight management is a crucial aspect of treating sleep apnea, it's often part of a broader treatment plan. Dr. Fink also may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliances, and lifestyle changes. 

If you suspect that your weight is contributing to sleep apnea, it's essential to consult with a health care professional. Dr. Fink can provide a comprehensive evaluation and tailor a treatment plan that addresses both your sleep apnea and weight management needs. To get started, contact our office to schedule an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

6 Subtle Signs of Hypothyroidism in Women

Hypothyroidism is sneaky in that symptoms are often subtle and nonspecific. If you know what to look for, you can act promptly to have your thyroid levels evaluated and get the treatment you need.

5 Foods That Can Aggravate Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unpredictable. Symptoms can strike unexpectedly, and it may feel difficult to control. With the right treatment plan, you can get on the winning side of the IBS battle, and knowing what foods to avoid can help.
Why Do My Fingers Hurt When It's Cold

Why Do My Fingers Hurt When It's Cold

Painful fingers during chilly weather may indicate issues with circulation or finger joints. In any event, seeing a health care provider can help you get the answers and the treatment you need to soothe your fingers. 

Can I Control Irritable Bowel Syndrome With My Diet Alone?

Knowing what to eat to control symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can help limit the impact of IBS on your quality of life. Teaming up with an experienced health care provider provides the best opportunity to effectively manage symptoms.
The Dangers of Hypertension

The Dangers of Hypertension

High blood pressure has a sneaky way of staying silent, often causing damage while flying under the radar. Left unchecked, hypertension can ramp up health risks, from heart issues to life-threatening events.