There are many risk factors for sleep apnea, including excess weight.1 But can losing a few pounds help reduce your symptoms or even cure your sleep apnea? We've answered some of your burning questions on sleep apnea and weight loss.
A. The short answer is no. While there are several sleep apnea treatment options available, there is no cure. However, weight loss may help reduce sleep apnea symptoms for some people, but only if you have obstructive sleep apnea.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common, making up 84% of sleep apnea diagnoses.2
In obstructive sleep apnea, you stop breathing because air stops flowing to the lungs due to a blockage. For some people, the weight of your neck narrows and blocks the airway during sleep. If that is the case, weight loss would have a positive effect on airway obstructions and airway collapsibility.
Before starting any weight loss program, talk with your doctor about your weight loss goals and what impact weight loss may have on your symptoms.
A: While it's always good to eat a healthy diet, it won't directly help your sleep apnea. However, healthy eating can lead to weight loss, which may reduce the size of your neck circumference and decrease the amount of pressure needed to keep your upper airway open. Healthy eating can also give you more energy for exercise, which may also help you lose more weight.
A: While quality sleep is extremely important, it cannot improve diabetes. However, untreated sleep apnea has been linked with poorer glucose control for type 2 diabetes,3 so it's important to continue on prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your type 2 diabetes.
A: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of developing many health conditions,4 but it hasn't been proven to cure sleep apnea. You should not stop your CPAP therapy without first talking to your doctor. CPAP is the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment and has been shown to effectively minimize sleep apnea symptoms.
Eating right, exercising and getting plenty of quality sleep are part of a healthy lifestyle that can help reach a healthy weight, even if it can’t cure your sleep apnea. And reaching a healthy weight may reduce your symptoms.
There are a variety of apps that can help you track your diet and exercise, and even your sleep. The ResMed myAir™ app helps you track your sleep apnea therapy for Air10™ device. Download the myAir app for your Apple® iPhone® on the App Store® or for your compatible Android™ smartphone on the Google Play™ store.5
1 Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631
2 Morgenthaler TI et al. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: Is it a unique clinical syndrome? Sleep 2006;29(9):1203–9.
3 Aronsohn RS et al. Impact of untreated obstructive sleep apnea on glucose control in type 2 diabetes. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2010;181(5):507–13.
4 Schelbert K. Comorbidities of obesity. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice 2009; 36 (2): 271-285
5 The myAir app is available in English only and in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
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