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How Does Being Overwheight or Obese Cause Sleep Apnea?

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There are several factors that may contribute to or cause sleep apnea, such as neck circumference, narrow airways, use of alcohol and or sedatives, smoking, nasal congestion, or it being a congenital disease in the family. However, there is one common factor to many people around the world, and that is being overweight or obese.

Excess weight is one, if not the most common cause of sleep apnea. This is due to fat deposits around the upper airway that can obstruct breathing. This is why obesity is commonly linked to sleep apnea and overall poor quality of sleep. Majority of people who struggle from obstructive sleep apnea are overweight or obese. Another problem that arises from sleep apnea due to being overweight, is that it can lead to more weight gain.

How Can Sleep Apnea Cause Weight Gain?

Sleep Apnea due to being overweight or obese can be a fierce cycle. Lack of sleep and daytime sleepiness caused by sleep apnea increases the production of leptin and ghrelin, which are hunger hormones that give you the sensation of feeling hungry. Because of these, overweight and obese people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to eat more, thus resulting in more weight gain, which can even heighten the effects of sleep apnea and cause other health disorders related to excess weight. 

Another weight causing problem that results from sleep apnea is daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Because people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to feel tired and fatigued during the day, it is more likely for them to do less physical activity, which in turn results in more weight gain. Because of the weight gain associated with sleep apnea, other health risks may also arise.

Other Health Risks Associated with Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea caused by being overweight or obesity can lead to cardiovascular, metabolic, and pulmonary problems:

  • High Blood Pressure or Heart Problems – Sleep apnea causes low, or sudden drops in the blood oxygen levels. This can put a severe strain on the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension. Low blood oxygen levels also increase the risk of having heart problems such as abnormal heartbeats, which in turn can lead to sudden death, and significantly increases the risk of having a stroke.
  • Type 2 Diabetessleep apnea greatly increases the risk of developing insulin resistance, aka type 2 diabetes.
  • Daytime Fatigue – Due to the lack of sleep, daytime fatigue is a common and dangerous symptom of sleep apnea, as this can cause harmful accidents, especially if you are driving. 
  • Liver Problems – People who suffer from sleep apnea tend to show signs of liver scarring, and are more likely to have abnormal liver function. 
  • Metabolic Syndrome – This syndrome includes several health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels and an increased waist circumference that is linked to higher risk of heart disease.

Weight Loss As A Treatment For Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Osa) In Malaysia

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