Snoring? It Could Be Apnea — and It Could Be Serious

Posted: Aug 24 in Health And Wellness by

Snoring It Could Be ApneaHave you ever found yourself suddenly waking from sleep snorting or gasping for air? Or perhaps your partner tactfully mentions loud, persistent snoring coming from your general direction during the night. If you are overweight, you could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious condition that causes your respiration to slow or stop completely while you’re sleeping.

Sleep apnea is a common complication of obesity, occurring when fatty tissue in the neck and throat area relaxes during sleep, blocking the throat and causing breathing to stop dozens of times in a single night. Left untreated, your risk for cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, is much higher than someone who doesn’t have the condition.

Because sleep apnea can have a big impact on your quality of sleep, it can also play a contributing role in gaining weight. In fact, several studies have demonstrated a link between poor sleep habits and weight gain. That’s because once you’re awake, your tired-out body needs to find a way to replenish its energy, and sugary snacks and other high-calorie foods are often the source. And of course, lack of sleep can also increase your stress levels, causing the body to release cortisol, a hormone that can cause the body to burn calories more slowly and store more fat.

Because sleep apnea can reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs, brain and other organs, some people are forced to treat their condition with a device that increases the pressure in the airway to prevent it collapsing. This device is known as a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP mask attaches over the nose and while it improves sleep, most patients find it uncomfortable and restricting.

Medically managed weight loss through diet, exercise, behavioral counseling and nutritional education addresses every factor that can contribute to weight gain and obesity, so men and women are more successful in losing weight and keeping it off. As weight is reduced, the fat deposited in the neck diminishes and the pressure exerted on the airway during sleep is also reduced.  In some cases sleep apnea will resolve completely with weight loss.  In almost all cases the severity of the condition is dramatically reduced with weight loss.

At the Clinical Nutrition Center, Dr. Ethan Lazarus has helped men and women throughout the Denver area address the underlying issues that cause weight gain and learn how to manage those issues successfully. As a result, many of these patients are able to discontinue the use of their CPAP machines.

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