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Obesity and Sleep Apnea: What comes first, obesity or sleep apnea?

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 12:00 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

Sleep apnea is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

Two main types of sleep apnea are: 

•    Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
•    Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

As is the case with many other health issues, obesity can significantly contribute to the development of sleep apnea. But did you also know that sleep concerns, like having sleep apnea or being sleep-deprived, could also lead to obesity?  

“An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, which is often associated with people who are overweight. As the person gains weight, especially in the trunk and neck area, the risk of sleep-disordered breathing increases due to compromised respiratory function," says Margaret Moline, PhD, and Lauren Broch, PhD, two sleep specialists at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Studies have shown that those who do not get enough rest, or quality rest, at night have hormonal changes and increased glucose levels. This can alter blood sugar levels and create a feeling or perceived need for more calorie intake. Interestingly enough, feelings of hunger and sleepiness often get confused, which can cause individuals to overeat when what they really need is a good night’s rest.

The good news is that this condition is something that can be treated. In fact, by losing just 10% of your excess body weight, you can decrease your risk of developing sleep apnea by over 25%. 

At Iowa Weight Loss Specialists, we’ve seen a high percentage of our patients eliminate the need for CPAP machines for sleep apnea after losing weight post-surgery.

Not sure if you or your partner has sleep apnea? Here are some concerns to be aware of and what to do if you think you have sleep apnea.

Signs you may have sleep apnea:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep
  • Waking up with a very dry or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep, such as frequent awakening, frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Occasionally waking up grasping or choking
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Cognitive deficits, such as: difficulty concentrating, irritability, and memory loss

What to do if you think you have sleep apnea:

  • Talk with your primary physician. They will most likely refer you to a sleep clinic for testing to determine diagnosis.
  • Incorporate a weight loss plan, if necessary. This could include diet and exercise only, or possibly weight loss surgery.

If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are overweight or obese, our programs can help you. Our Medical Weight Loss program is a non-surgical weight loss solution that focuses on diet, exercise, and other weight-related factors. Our gastric sleeve weight loss surgery is also an effective, long-term solution to reducing or eliminating excess weight and long-term health concerns.

If you are interested in weight loss solutions, contact us for more information or register for one of our free weight loss surgery classes!

The Mayo Clinic
The Sleep Foundation
Obesity Help

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