If I lose weight, will my sleep apnea go away?

Steven C. Smart, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
We have found that CPAP therapies and treatments for sleep apnea can stabilize the disease. Weight loss is the most sure way to reverse the disease process, correct the obstructive process and treat the dangerous effects on heart disease.

Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, a common but serious sleep disorder that causes interruptions in breathing throughout the night. Losing weight may help treat sleep apnea in overweight or obese people. However, weight loss takes time, so it is not an immediate treatment and it may not work as the only treatment of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea taxes the cardiovascular system and can contribute to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, speak with your physician about treatments that are appropriate for you.
If you have not been diagnosed but have symptoms of sleep apnea (snoring can be, but is not always, a symptom), talk with your doctor about whether you should be checked for the disorder.
Sleep apnea has three causes: central, in which your brain causes a lack of breathing desire; obstructive, in which there is a physical block of airflow; and mixed. The majority of these are obstructive, and many of these are caused by obesity. Therefore, there is a good possibility that if you are overweight or obese, and if you lose weight, the apnea will go away. In any case, it won't get worse, and you will be improving your health in many different ways if you diet to a healthy weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.