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Sleep Apnea

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While some people dismiss snoring at night as an annoyance, it can be the sign of a dangerous sleep disorder. If snoring is caused by a collapse of the throat, especially in a person with obesity, this can lead to significant health risks. At West Medical, we treat many patients with sleep disorders and help them regain their energy and health through bariatric surgery and the subsequent weight loss.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is the common name for a disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. People who have sleep apnea will stop breathing for periods of 10 seconds or more, multiple times throughout a night. Their breathing is stopped because the muscles in the back of the throat do not force the airway to stay open. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

People with obstructive sleep apnea tend to snore loudly, and are often tired during the day because the quality of their sleep is not sufficient. If sleep apnea continues unmanaged, it can lead to higher blood pressure, depression, stroke, and heart attacks.

How is obesity related to sleep apnea?

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, even a 10% increase in weight “can predicted a 6-fold increase in the odds of developing moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea.” Sleep apnea is particularly frustrating for people with obesity, because it creates a negative cycle: having sleep apnea makes you more tired during the day, which makes fitting in exercise more difficult. Additionally, without time to exercise, losing weight is more difficult, and increased weight contributes to sleep apnea. More than 3/4ths of the older adults who are obese, report having sleep problems.

Studies have also shown that people who do not get sufficient sleep at night are more likely to overeat, or choose unhealthy foods. This is likely a result of their bodies trying to overcompensate for a lack of sleep, with a short-term energy boosting food like sugar. These food choices, or tendencies to overeat, only make it harder to lose weight and harder to get rid of sleep apnea.

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How may losing weight help with sleep apnea?

Many patients find that after bariatric surgery, they no longer have sleep apnea. Even losing 10% of ones body weight has been shown to improve sleep apnea symptoms, and reduce the need for a CPAP mask.

Next steps

More than half of people with obesity have sleep apnea. If you are suffering from low quality sleep, or waking up feeling as though you’re not rested, losing weight may improve the quality of your sleep. For people with a substantial amount of weight to lose, bariatric surgery is considered the most safe and effective method. Please contact us here if you’d like to learn more about the surgical weight loss options we offer, or about how health conditions like obstructive sleep apnea can be helped with bariatric surgery.

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