The obesity epidemic is said to be increasing cases of obstructive sleep apnea across the country.
Obesity in America is a real problem. In fact, it’s reached such heights that it is now considered an epidemic. Unfortunately, obesity in itself is just part of the problem. Obesity, like many other illnesses, comes with a lot of unfortunate side effects, from depression to diabetes, and even a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs during sleep, when the affected person is in the reclined position, and pressure is put upon their airway as they rest. This causes difficulty breathing, and can often cause the affected person to gasp and choke for air as they sleep. It can sound like snoring, but it isn’t snoring, though people with obstructive sleep apnea often snore as well.
While you don’t need to be obese or even overweight to have obstructive sleep apnea, the illness is most frequently found in those who are obese, making excess weight a risk facr for this dangerous disease.
Recently, a presentation at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners annual meeting revealed that for every 10% weight gain, a person’s risk of obstructive sleep apnea increases by sixfold. More troubling? Those with obstructive sleep apnea have been found to have higher levels of leptin, a hunger hormone. Leptin is said to make it easier to gain weight, and much harder to lose weight, further fueling the risk for those with sleep apnea to be obese or overweight.
The great news is that weight loss has been shown to reduce sleep apnea and its symptoms. Even slight weight loss can reduce symptoms, while major weight loss can seriously reduce and even eliminate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, and reduce reliance on sleep aids such as CPAP therapy and sleep appliances.
Unfortunately, many patients prescribed CPAP therapy don’t utilize it properly because, frankly, they find it uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are comfortable alternatives to CPAP therapy, including sleep appliances which are custom fit to the individual mouth. These devices position the mouth in such a way that the airway is propped open, allowing the patient to sleep comfortably without struggling to breathe.
Dr. Abelar offers these orthotic sleep appliances in the clinic and would be happy to customize one for you. Please contact the office today for more information.