Excess Weight Can Cause Sleep Apnea
One of the first ways weight can play a role in sleep apnea is by causing it. Several conditions can increase the possibility of developing sleep apnea but excess weight is one of the top causes. When you gain weight, it doesn’t just go to your stomach or your thighs, it distributes itself around your entire body. The neck is one of the areas where fat will start to accumulate. As the neck accumulates fat, known as pharyngeal fat, and grows in girth, it can begin to obstruct the upper airway during sleep. The narrow airway is what causes the snoring sound. Air is squeezing through the tiny airway and causing the throat tissue to vibrate and creating snoring noises.
The excess fat won’t just cause the airway to narrow, it can also compress the chest’s wall and decrease lung volume. As the lungs lose max capacity and air struggles to make its way through the upper airway, it’s even more likely that the upper airway collapses. When it does collapse, it causes the body to stop breathing, otherwise known as an apnea episode.
You might think putting on a few pounds every year isn’t a big deal but in some cases, it can lead to sleep apnea. A 10% weight gain can result in a six-fold increased risk of developing sleep apnea. If you have an unhealthy amount of fat in your body, losing weight can help decrease your risk of developing sleep apnea.