Just What is Sleep Apnea and What Causes it?

obstructive sleep apnea, tired man resting his head on his hands.

A type of sleep apnea called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition which affects one’s breathing and can even make one’s breathing stop. Typically, it happens several times for a duration of about 10 seconds. This health issue can cause lack of sleep, daytime drowsiness irritability, and impaired mental/physical functionality. This can cause snoring and gasping while you sleep.

  • OSA happens when the back of the throat collapses and blocks off the airways.
  • It can be caused by neurological conditions where the brain fails to send appropriate signals to the muscles that enable you to breathe.
  • Sleep apnea may be caused by stomach acid entering the esophagus which causes spasms in the vocal cords for those who suffer from acid reflux (GERD).
  • Obesity can play a large role in causing OSA due to the excess weight of the body pressing down on the chest and lungs.
  • Sleep apnea can also be associated with metabolic syndrome (a combination of disorders related to obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and more).

How Bariatric Surgery Can Help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

obstructive sleep apnea, surgeon in scrubs.

Because bariatric surgery has been proven to be an effective tool in achieving long-term weight loss success, it has been shown to improve or even cure OSA in patients. The reason for this is that weight loss itself is a great way to free up the airways and eliminate obstruction of the airways and can remedy many disorders such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, which are two conditions tied to metabolic syndrome.

In 2013, a study published in Obesity Surgery Journal showed that there is, in fact, a large correlation between obesity and the development of OSA. Upon review of whether or not bariatric surgery has an effect on treating OSA, researchers found that it, in fact, has a profound effect.

Extra Care is Needed when Getting Surgery with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

While there is still less than a 5% chance of complications for those who undergo bariatric surgery that have OSA, it is recommended that candidates be carefully checked and diagnosed prior to surgery. This is because some of the anesthetic agents and narcotics that are used during operation affect the airway, worsening the condition, which can be a risk.

If you suffer from OSA and want to see if bariatric surgery is right for you, consult your primary care physician to ensure appropriate measures are taken before committing to this life-changing tool.

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Bariatric Surgery Gets Rid of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Teens