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Does Weight Affect Your Chances of Developing Sleep Apnea?

When it comes to weight and developing sleep apnea, it’s like a vicious cycle. Sadly, excess weight can cause sleep apnea.

Likewise, the disrupted sleep caused by sleep apnea can lead to weight gain.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

If you’re experiencing any or all of the following symptoms, there’s a chance you might be developing sleep apnea:

  • Extreme and continual daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Periods of interrupted nighttime breathing
  • Abrupt nighttime waking while gasping or choking
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood changes, depression or difficulty concentrating

The Link Between Weight and Sleep Apnea

Though there are several other health conditions that can cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), it is most common in people who are overweight or obese. In fact, as many as 45% of obese adults may suffer from OSA. Excess weight on a person can contribute to sleep apnea in several ways:

  • Blocked airway – excess weight can create fat deposits in a person’s neck, called pharyngeal fat. During sleep, when the airway is relaxed, these fat deposits can block the upper airway making it difficult for air to pass through. Ergo: snoring.
  • Decreased lung volume – when a person carries extra weight around their abdomen, the chest wall may be compressed when laying down and lead to a decrease in lung capacity and air volume. Lower lung capacity = less airflow. Less airflow = interrupted breathing.
  • Increased pressure – throughout the body, excess weight increases the pressure on the airways and leads to problems breathing, particularly when the person is most relaxed and laying flat, hence SLEEP apnea. When the body is upright, the weight doesn’t impact the airways nearly as it does during sleep.

Can Weight Loss Cure Sleep Apnea?

While gaining wait can cause sleep apnea, weight loss can significantly improve and even eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea altogether. Working toward a healthy body weight can eliminate pharyngeal fat and increase lung capacity and airflow, as well as improving your overall quality of life.

Although losing weight may help with symptoms of sleep apnea, some of the causes of sleep apnea might be out of your control. Sometimes oral surgeries or devices like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be required to help get you back to your most restful beauty sleep.

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help

If you think you might be developing sleep apnea, consult with an oral surgeon to determine if you have an oral condition that requires surgery. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our board-certified oral surgeons specialize in tooth extraction, dental implant insertion, corrective jaw surgery, and more. We have offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan, and Tooele, Utah. Schedule your free consultation today.


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