Obstructive sleep apnea is common in people who are overweight or obese. So is weight loss an effective way to treat sleep apnea?
A new study from Finland shows that people with mild sleep apnea may benefit from weight loss. Participants were put on a very low calorie diet. They also received supervised lifestyle modification.
The treatment led to an average weight loss of 10.7 kg, which is almost 24 pounds. It also led to a significant reduction in sleep apnea severity.
All common sleep apnea symptoms improved. The treatment benefits remained at the one-year follow up.
The AASM recommends dietary weight loss as one treatment strategy for people who are obese and have sleep apnea. But weight loss should be combined with another treatment such as CPAP or an oral appliance.
Why? There are three main reasons. First, weight loss takes time. Sleep apnea is a serious health problem that requires immediate treatment to normalize your breathing during sleep.
Second, weight loss is difficult to maintain. Often there is a trend toward regaining weight over time.
Finally, although it may reduce the severity of sleep apnea, weight loss rarely cures sleep apnea. Breathing pauses during sleep are still likely to occur.
Talk to your doctor before starting a diet or a weight-loss plan. Contact an AASM-accredited sleep center for help with sleep apnea.