Weight Loss Reduces Sleep Apnea Severity

Researchers have reported that obese patients treated with certain weight-loss drugs for 28 weeks lost significant amounts of weight and saw relief from the obstructive sleep apnea.

Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep breathing disorder which causes patients to stop breathing during sleep. A large neck size is one sign that doctors look for when suspecting sleep apnea in a patient. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, gasping during sleep, teeth grinding and extreme daytime sleepiness.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing because the soft tissues of the neck and mouth relax during sleep and fall back, blocking the airway. Blood oxygen levels drop and the sleeper briefly wakens to begin breathing again. Patients do not remember these brief wakings. Sleep apnea is very damaging to the cardiovascular system and has been linked to heart attack and stroke.

Treatment for sleep apnea includes weight loss (easier said than done for most of us), as the new study suggests. Other treatment options include CPAP, surgery or oral appliance therapy. Many patients find sleeping with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to be difficult or impossible. Surgical interventions for sleep apnea do not appear to be effective over the long term and are very uncomfortable.

Oral appliance therapy uses a device that looks similar to an orthodontic retainer. This device keeps the airway open during sleep by gently moving the lower jaw forward. The majority of patients find sleeping with an oral appliance comfortable and highly effective. For patients who travel a great deal, oral appliances make airport security screenings much easier than lugging a CPAP.

Find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Clyde, NC sleep apnea dentist Dr. John Highsmith today at 828-627-9282.

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Posted in: Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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