Is ‘fat tongue’ the culprit behind sleep apnea?

Is ‘fat tongue’ the culprit behind sleep apnea?

Do you think your tongue looks fat? It may sound weird, but researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe fat tongue can treat patients suffering from sleep apnea. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 35 percent of adults are overweight. Sleep apnea is considered to be a potential health risk for many Americans and according to a new research, one of the culprits behind this disorder is ‘fat tongue’. Obese patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have more fat at the base of their tongue, says a study.

How to get rid of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder where the airways narrow during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing. It is similar to snoring, but the pauses are due to narrow or blocked airways that do not allow the body to get enough oxygen. It sends a signal to the brain saying it is time to wake up, and the person does so without knowing. And these hindrances prevent sound sleep, steady heart rate and blood pressure, thus affecting overall health. The most common signs include loud snoring accompanied by periodic choking or gasping for breath, and many people complain of drowsiness during the day. Research also suggests that pauses in breathing can affect the nervous system, increase blood pressure and lead to inflammation in the arteries.

The size of the tongue should be checked by a physician when screening obese patients. The researchers suggest that the extra fat not only increases the tongue size, but also hinders the muscles that connect the tongue to the bone. The extra fat can prevent these muscles from keeping the tongue away from the airway and thus block the airway during sleep. It leads to sleep problems.

Sleep apnea Treatment

According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea increases as the body gains extra weight. The major warning signs include snoring, choking, gasping or silent breathing pauses while asleep. Identifying and treating sleep apnea is important as it can control high BP, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

Losing weight, exercises for upper airway and surgery are some of the ways to cut down the fat deposits, but more research needs to be done in this area. Till then, those suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea should learn how to lessen this disorder and create awareness for those who do not know about this disorder. So, just visit sleep clinic to get this ailment treated.


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