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Can Obesity Cause Sleep Apnea?

July 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fresnofamilydental @ 12:42 am

Scale and tape measureAre you struggling to feel well-rested despite sleeping for the recommended 7 to 9 hours each night? Maybe you’re getting up in the morning with a headache or sore throat? You may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The disorder causes frequent disruptions in breathing from an obstruction in the upper airway. Although anyone can have the disorder, various factors increase your risk, like obesity. Here’s why it’s important to maintain a healthy weight to promote a good night’s rest. 

Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is most often caused by a narrowed or blocked upper airway, which can result from the soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapsing as they relax. Not only can this cause loud, chronic snoring, but it can also make you stop breathing often throughout the night. Every interruption depletes your body of oxygen and disturbs your sleep cycle. Over time, it can lead to potentially deadly health concerns, like heart attack and stroke. 

Although OSA can affect anyone, including children, researchers have found a connection between the breathing disorder and being overweight. Excess weight creates fat deposits in the neck, called pharyngeal fat, which can block the airway and result in breathing interruptions. 

Besides added fat around the neck, excess weight can compress the chest wall. This can decrease lung volume and the capacity necessary to maintain upper airflow. Previous research has found that even a 10% weight gain can increase the risk of sleep apnea by 6 times. 

Unfortunately, the connections between obesity and OSA don’t end there. Sleep apnea can also contribute to weight gain. The breathing disorder affects your sleep quality, which can cause sleep deprivation to occur. Without adequate rest, leptin (an appetite-suppressing hormone) decreases, while ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone) increases. This can make you crave calorie-dense foods and lead to overeating. 

Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for your overall health and wellness; however, it can also decrease your risk of sleep apnea. If you have already developed the disorder, losing weight can reduce your symptoms, but it isn’t a substitute for traditional treatments, which can include:

  • CPAP: A CPAP machine delivers a gentle stream of air pressure through a mask worn over the mouth or nose to prevent the airways from collapsing. 
  • Oral Appliance: A custom-fit oral appliance repositions the tongue and lower jaw to prevent a blockage in the upper airway. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist has the solutions you need to breathe better, so you can sleep peacefully. With the right treatment and changes at home, you can promote your health and wellness through a good night’s sleep.

About Dr. Byron L. Reintjes

Dr. Reintjes earned his dental degree at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry and has completed additional training in advanced services, like orthodontics, Invisalign, and oral appliance therapy. If you need treatment for sleep apnea in Fresno, contact our office today to request your consultation.

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