Obesity and OSA
Obesity is a condition in which an individual has an excessive amount of body fat to the degree that overall health is negatively impacted. Measuring body mass index (BMI) is the method in which obesity is evaluated and looks at the relationship between height and weight. You can easily calculate your BMI with this online tool. A person is considered obese if his or body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Nevertheless, since BMI is only a measure of weight in relation to height and does not directly measure body fat, a person’s BMI can be in the obese range without him or her actually being obese.
People who are classified as obese have an increased risk of developing other health issues such as:
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Coronary heart disease
As a result, individuals who are obese typically have a lower life expectancy. Besides these apparent health issues, obese individuals may also suffer from psychological issues such as depression, bipolar disease and/or agoraphobia (fear of public and open places). Obesity occurs from eating or drinking more calories than are burned throughout the day. Genetic and hormonal factors can also contribute to obesity. However, the chief causes are inactivity, unhealthy diet, poor sleeping habits, medications and other medical problems. Depending on the root cause of the obesity, most symptoms can be corrected by diet, exercise and behavioral changes. In severe cases, prescription drugs or weight-loss surgery may be suggested.
WHY DOES OBESITY LEAD TO OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA?
There is a well-established link between obesity and OSA, with 70 percent of obese patients having some form of the condition. One prominent warning sign leading to OSA can be found in the measurement of the circumference of the neck area. A neck size of 17 inches or greater for men, and 16 inches or greater for women is a warning sign of possible sleep apnea. The accumulation of excess fatty tissue around the neck and trunk region limits respiratory function. Due to this fact, the soft tissue in the back of the throat narrows or collapses causing the airway to become obstructed, or completely blocked. When the airway is blocked, the lack of oxygen triggers the brain to wake up the individual. These episodes are called “apneas” and can occur many times a night, often accompanied by a gasp for air. It is important to note, the severity of OSA can be increased by alcohol consumption, smoking cigarettes and nasal congestion.
If you have been wondering whether or not your obesity is affecting your sleep to the degree that you suspect sleep apnea, we can help. Contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation when it’s convenient for you.