How does Sleep Apnea Affect My Weight?
Sleep apnea is technically know as obstructive sleep apnea. That means that excess weight or the physical condition of an individual causes soft tissue in the mouth and throat to enlarge. When the person sleeps, the excess tissue blocks the airway, causing gasping and moments of suffocation.
Has Sleep apnea caused me to gain weight?
Studies show that possibly 82 percent of those with sleep apnea are obese. Did obesity cause the apnea?
Or, is it possible that apnea caused the obesity?
Consider the circumstances. Apnea awakens a person many times during the night to receive proper oxygen. Sleep-deprived people have higher cortisol levels, which translates into belly fat for many. Night shift workers are classic examples.
Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REM, rapidly burns calories. The constant disruption of sleep apnea reduces this deep stage of sleep.
Tiredness during the day may encourage binging on sugared treats and caffeine to boost energy levels.
How do I know I have sleep apnea?
The first hint might be family’s complaints of loud, irregular snoring. Sometimes choking or gasping occurs. The snoring is loudest if the sleeper lies on the back. Sometimes a person may not snore at all, but generally, the snoring gets louder and louder as time passes.
The family’s critical description is all hearsay, of course, but physical signs during the day may be telling.
A person may feel very exhausted at intervals during the day, and fall asleep suddenly while doing a quiet activity like watching TV. Ability to concentrate may be compromised, and headache in the morning is a common complaint. Sometimes the throat may be routinely sore from all that rasping during the night.
Who may be in danger of sleep apnea?
Middle-aged men seem most affected by this disorder. Although the condition is common in overweight people, about half of those with sleep apnea are not significantly overweight.
Potential for sleep apnea is really determined by the width of the throat. Sometimes, people inherit a smaller throat area, and, with weight gain, fat pads narrow it further. Children may have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that obstruct the airway while sleeping. Although men are more likely to exhibit sleep apnea, the gap between male and female narrows after menopause.
What factors may contribute to sleep apnea?
Alcohol consumption or sleep sedatives will cause relaxation of the throat muscles and contribute to apnea. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, because smoking consistently irritates and inflames the throat. Fluid retention causes tissues to swell. If a person quits smoking, the condition is likely to subside.
People with allergies or asthma are at risk for sleep apnea, because tissues are swollen through congestion.
Getting older is also a strong factor in the development of sleep apnea, because growing older may include chronic conditions like congestive heart failure or stroke.
What can be done to change the risk of side-effects from sleep apnea?
Various surgical procedures are successful for sleep apnea. Dr. Jamali of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of New York strongly recommends a surgery to enlarge the constricted airway of those with obstructive sleep apnea.
Most insurances will cover the condition of obstructive sleep apnea, because the obstruction seriously undermines health if left untreated.
What sort of surgical procedure is performed?
One sort of procedure is performed in the back of the palate and the throat. It is called uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty, or UPPP. The very long title is not indicative of a difficult surgery. Many times the procedure can be done with a laser or radio-frequency probe to tighten up the sagging tissue of the soft palate. Light IV sedation is used, and the treatment is done right in the doctor’s office.
At times, the situation may be more complex than the former description. In that case, the bones of the lower and upper jaw may need to be repositioned. Repositioning of these bones permits a larger airway and more oxygenation through normal respiration during sleep. This is usually a hospital procedure with general anesthesia and approximately a 24-hour stay.
Dr. Jamali is a skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Oral and maxillofacial surgery requires a great deal of training, which means four more years of surgical training in a hospital setting after dental school graduation.
Dr. Jamali offers consultation for those suspecting they may have obstructive sleep apnea. A detailed medical history will be recorded, and cephalometric, or skull X-rays, will be taken. A flexible, fiber-optic camera may be used to examine the nasal and pharynx, or throat area. When these examinations are completed, a sleep study can be done with oxygen levels monitored to see just how compromised the individual may be from sleep apnea and related oxygen deprivation.
Once information is obtained, a plan to address the sleep apnea condition will be put into place.
Is your quality of life being reduced while you struggle with sleep apnea?
There is a permanent solution.
Please contact Dr. Jamali’s office at 212-480-2777 for your individual consultation.