Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obesity Health Risk: Sleep Apnea

I have Sleep Apnea. It is the obstuctive type and is brought on by my being morbidly obese. I use a CPAP machine every night when I sleep. Albeit the fact that it helps me sleep and that I wake up rested and with energy, I hate that friggin machine. I have strap marks when I wake up in the morning. I have skin irritation on my forehead, nose and above my mouth. It royally bites and I can't wait until the day I do not need it anymore. I am hoping by the end of this year to be re-evaluated and ditch it entirely.

This is a helpful article on Sleep Apnea that was on WebMd:

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.

Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
Male gender
Being overweight
Being over the age of forty
Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
Having a family history of sleep apnea
Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems including:
High blood pressure
Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
Worsening of ADHD

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, as well as academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

Common sleep apnea symptoms include:

Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat
Loud snoring
Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
Sleepiness while driving
Morning headaches
Restless sleep
Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
Recurrent awakenings or insomnia

Sleep Apnea Tests and Diagnosis
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor may ask you to have a sleep apnea test in a sleep disorder center. This often includes a polysomnogram.

A polysomnogram -- or sleep study -- is a multiple-component test that electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep. The recordings are analyzed by a qualified sleep specialist to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea or another type of sleep disorder. If sleep apnea is determined, you may be asked to return to the lab for further evaluation in order to determine the best treatment option.

Behavioral Modifications for Sleep Apnea

In mild cases of sleep apnea, conservative therapy may be all that is needed. Conservative approaches include:

Losing weight
Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills
Changing sleep positions to promote regular breathing
Stop smoking. Smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway which may worsen both snoring and apnea.
Avoid sleeping on your back

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Continuous positive airway pressure -- also called CPAP -- is a treatment in which a mask is worn over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. The mask is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils. The positive pressure from air flowing into the nostrils helps keep the airways open so that breathing is not impaired. CPAP is considered by many experts to be the most effective treatment for sleep apnea.

I hope this helps you if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. It can be fatal if left untreated. Please see a doctor if you have any concerns about yourself or a loved one. Until next time...


  1. Interesting information. Considering that I've heard that addressing the weight issues has a good chance of alleviating the condition, you are doing a fabulous job at getting there. Another great motivator, I'm sure.

  2. I have no doubt that by year's end you'll be machine-free!

  3. Hang in there, before you know it it will be G.O.N.E. for good!

  4. My friend at work just got diagnosed with sleep apnea-she has no real plans to lose weight-she doesn't like exercise-I am so proud of you for taking the important steps to get off that machine :)

  5. We are going to celebrate when you get to ditch the machine. You can come here and we can go to "the ketch" or I will go there! I am pretty sure I had sleep apnea before losing my first chunk of weight and am very grateful that the weight loss is helping my health.

  6. Losing weight may or may not help apnea. Apnea might be the reason why you gained weight in the first place and may still be present when you are thin. It is sort of a double edged sword. The shape of your skull can have a lot to do with it.

  7. My husband finally agreed to go to a sleep clinic - he was waking not only me up, but himself, like he was gasping for air!

    The results showed that he was waking up around 100 times AN HOUR! No wonder the poor man woke up tired!

    He's had it a year, and yes, while he sometimes has marks on his face - he sleeps so peacefully and is rested.

    Fingers crossed you'll be able to ditch it by the end of the year!

  8. Hi Katie, I too wear the Cpap, it really makes a difference. I have other Sleep Disorders as well, my one sister does as well. I hate wearing it, but if I don't I can hardly function through the day. Great information. take care, I hope by the end of the year you will be off of it. Fingers crossed.

  9. I'd certainly expect that when you lose some more weight, you'll also lose the apneay. :D Deb

  10. Hi Katie! thanks for all your support. It meant so much to me.

    Chickadee has mild apnea. We are currently watching it rigorously. Hubbend's parents both use(d) c-paps and so this is a part of our day to day life. Thanks for raising awareness, and I hope you can ditch it!

  11. Just catching up on my blog reading! Glad to hear you are down another pound and that HG is out of the house! Hope you are doing okay with the stuff about the adoption papers...

  12. I'm sure you won't need it by the end of this year!!

  13. I had sleep apnea and wore a cpap machine every night. Before I got it, I would fall asleep standing up during the day. It was horrible - I was so tired all the time - couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then I got tested and they immediately put me on a machine and WOW what a difference. Even though I absolutely HATED wearing that mask I truly believe it was saving my life. Now that I've lost 30+lbs, I do not need to wear it.
    One day you will too!

  14. I have sleep apnea and I HATE it!! I do wear my mask regularly and without fail though. Because I know that if I don't my heart will wear down.

    I hate the strap marks that I wake up with.

    Just one more reason why losing weight makes sense! :)

    One day you and I will celebrate sleeping with our masks off!! :)



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