Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that many people don’t know they have. That is until their loved ones start complaining about the chronic, loud snoring keeping them awake at night.
At OakBend Medical Group, our bariatric surgeon, Christopher Reilly, MD, FACS, specializes in several types of weight loss surgery that can help treat your sleep apnea.
While surgery isn’t the first line of treatment, our team might recommend surgery to support the other therapies you use to address obstructive sleep apnea. They offer some insight into why you might have sleep apnea and how bariatric surgery can reduce your risk for serious complications.
An overview of obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea describes a condition in which your airway is partially blocked while sleeping. The blockage occurs because the soft tissues in the rear of your throat collapse, causing a partial blockage.
During your unconscious sleep, you’re not aware of your breathing patterns. You might first notice you have obstructive sleep apnea if you often wake up out of a deep sleep gasping for air.
Many people with obstructive sleep apnea seek treatment only after their partner’s sleep is interrupted by the loud snoring that’s also common with the condition.
Other common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Daytime tiredness
- Concentration issues
- Very dry or sore throat after waking
While these symptoms can relate to a number of other underlying medical conditions, it’s important that you speak with your family physician about testing for obstructive sleep apnea.
The risk factors of sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects both men and women but is more common among men who are over 40 and overweight.
You might also be at risk for OSA if you have a family history of the condition or because of structural issues like:
- Large tongue
- Large tonsils
- Deviated septum
- Small jawbone
- A neck diameter over 17 inches in men or 16 inches in women
Infections and chronic allergies might also contribute to OSA when persistent inflammation in your nasal passages make it difficult to breathe while sleeping.
Why treatment for obstructive sleep apnea matters
Letting your obstructive sleep apnea go untreated can do more damage than angering loved ones with your snoring.
When your breathing patterns aren’t consistent during sleep, your brain and body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function. This lack of oxygen can lead to serious medical conditions and long-term complications like:
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
Obstructive sleep apnea can also have an impact on your mental health, as the side effects of the condition can cause depression and anxiety. You also might lack the mental clarity you need to handle your responsibilities.
Treating OSA often starts with lifestyle changes to help you achieve a healthy body weight, practicing good sleep habits, and treating underlying allergies or infections. Many people benefit from a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that provides supplemental oxygen through a mask while you sleep.
How weight loss surgery can make OSA more manageable
If you’re trying to improve your health but can’t lose weight, our team at OakBend Medical Group can determine if you’re a candidate for bariatric surgeries like a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.
Bariatric surgery is available for those who are obese but can’t shed excess pounds with exercise and a healthy diet. Surgery might also be an option for weight loss if you’re at risk for chronic or life-threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, and severe sleep apnea.
Following surgery, you can expect to lose weight rapidly during the first few months. As you continue losing weight, you’ll have more energy to stay physically active and further reduce your risk for a worsening of your sleep apnea and other long-term health complications.
To learn more about the benefits of bariatric surgery in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, call OakBend Medical Group or book a consultation online today.