Weight loss: Experts continue to emphasize the importance of lifestyle modifications—especially weight loss—for treating obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which the airway becomes blocked during sleep, interrupting breathing—sometimes dozens of times during a single night. Having obstructive sleep apnea puts you at risk for a number of other conditions, including high blood pressure and stroke.
The importance of weight loss
The link between excess weight and sleep apnea is well established. People who are overweight are more likely to have extra tissue in the back of their throat, which can fall down over the airway and block the flow of air into the lungs while they sleep.
Though losing weight is easier said than done, it can yield real results. If overweight and obese people lose weight, it would make both sleep apnea and other health problems [such as heart disease] go away. Losing just 10% of body weight can have a big effect on sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition.
The ACP also strongly recommends continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP. This is typically the first-line treatment for people with sleep apnea, because weight loss can be so hard to achieve. CPAP is a mask or device that fits over the nose and mouth. It blows air into the airways to keep them open at night.
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