Understanding Obesity Related Diseases: Sleep Apnea

As more of our population become obese and overweight, obesity diseases become much more prevalent. Diabetes is one such disease, and here I explain what it is, why it affects the overweight, symptoms and prevention.sleep-apnea

What is it?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping and breathing disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, which has the potential to be fatal.  There are two main types of sleep apnea: 1) obstructive and 2) central (or you could have a combo of the two, which is known as complex sleep apnea).  Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax, whereas central sleep apnea occurs when your brain does not send the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

Why is it affected by obesity/overweight?
Excessive weight and fat deposits around your upper airway seen with obesity may obstruct your breathing and lead to sleep apnea.  It is important to keep in mind that not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight.

What are the symptoms?
The list below, provided on the Mayo Clinic website, displays the most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)

What can you do to prevent it?
Treatment is necessary to avoid heart problems and other complications.  For more mild cases, simple lifestyle changes are recommended.  These changes would include improvements on weight (i.e. losing weight) or quitting smoking.  However, for more serious conditions, medical attention is needing to determine which therapy would be appropriate.

3 Responses to Understanding Obesity Related Diseases: Sleep Apnea

happy life says:

hi kinsey, thanks for the information about sleep apnea.. hmm, i must get started to check my health again… make sure that i’m fine and no diabetic symptom

Thanks for the post Kinsey. I know that many over weight people develop sleep apnea, but thanks for recognizing that many people get this disease even when they are not obese. I am one of these exceptions and people are always surprised when I tell them.

nina says:

I was diagnosed yesterday with central sleep apnea. My ENT didn’t seem to have a clue, so he sent me to my neurosurgeon. Neither knew much about the problem, and fortunately neither was afraid to let me know (that’s the right kind of DR in my opinion…one who will admit his shortcomings or lack of knowledge in an area). Anyway, I’m being sent next to a neurologist. Of course, I have been doing a lot of research, but reading about some of the things that could cause CSA, i.e. Shy-Dreger, are pretty scary. Anybody out there have any knowledge to share?

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