Obesity is an important risk factor for snoring and OSA. However, rather substantial amounts of weight loss are often required to produce a significant improvement in symptoms. Most studies looking at this factor show that the weight loss must be of the order of 20 - 30%. This can be very difficult to achieve. The success rate for sustained weight loss of 10 - 15% through diet and exercise is only about 5 - 10%.
Drugs such as Fenfluramine are now frequently prescribed for the treatment of obesity. A rare complication of prolonged use of this and similar drugs is a condition called Pulmonary Hypertension. This condition is usually fatal and there is no effective treatment apart from heart-lung transplantation.
In cases of severe obesity, surgery to reduce the capacity of the stomach can result in more dramatic weight loss and significant improvement in OSA. However, these operations should only be performed at specialized centres. There are numerous medical complications as well.
To view an example of the effects of weight loss, click here.
Smoking is another important factor. However, smoking is now known to be a powerful addiction. There are a number of medical aids to quitting smoking such as nicotine replacement and drugs to decrease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, success rates for quitting smoking are of the order of 10 - 15%, even with the best programs. It takes persistence and determination to quit.
Alcohol when consumed in excess can exacerbate snoring and OSA. Intervention is not usually required if a person drinks heavily on a few special occasions such as one's birthday. However, for alcoholics, the increase in apnea due to muscle relaxation and sedation may be the cause of the "hangover". Again, treatment is more difficult in those who need it the most.
Sleep Habits are also important. A poor night's sleep can worsen snoring and OSA on the following night. This can create a vicious cycle that leads to rapid worsening of snoring and OSA.
Nasal valve dilators
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
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