Snoring is often viewed as an inconvenience but it can be a potentially serious issue. It may be the presenting sign of a condition known as Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately, a serious sleeping condition often gets overlooked, which can triple the risk of death for the affected! Certain signs such as consistent loud snoring, daytime fatigue, and weight gain may be indications of this serious illness.
Sleep Apnea is usually chronic issues that results in one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. People with this disorder can repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping which usually results in a reduced oxygen supply to the brain and the tissues of the body.
Each pause in breathing is called an “apnea” and can last for several seconds to several minutes. When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream and chemoreceptors in the blood stream instantly respond to the high carbon dioxide levels. The brain is then signaled to wake the sleeping person and breathe in air in order to release the carbon dioxide built up. Breathing normally restores oxygen levels and the person falls asleep again.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
- Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
- Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
- Abrupt awakenings with a rapid pounding or racing heart rate
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Attention problems
Complications of sleep apnea can result in a variety of health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart Problems
- Weight Gain
Obesity can cause a specific type of Sleep Apnea called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common chronic disorder that often requires lifelong care. It is well documented that daytime fatigue can be prevalent in obese patients even though they may not demonstrate symptoms of sleep apnea. However, there is strong data demonstrating the fact that obese patients run a proportionately much higher risk of having sleep apnea.
Bariatric or Weight loss surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for OSA in patients who are obese and often also resolves the underlying co-morbidities of sleep apnea. While scientific reasoning for this requires further study it is theorized that the weight loss is associated with a decrease in upper airway collapsibility and obstruction mostly caused by tissues size, which is one of the major causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Effective weight loss through bariatric surgery has helped many patients achieve complete resolution and improvement of their co-morbidities such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. Studies show sleep investigations performed approximately one year after the bariatric surgery revealed a significant decrease in the number of “apnea” episodes per hour of sleep and an improvement in all sleep quality related measurements as well. Bariatric surgery is perfectly suited for obese patients with OSA.
The correlation between Sleep Apnea and obesity has been well documented and supported through modern science. Clinical data, medical trials, and patient testimonials all underscore major improvements in the symptoms of Sleep Apnea after bariatric surgery.
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