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Although anyone—regardless of gender, age or race—can develop obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), those who are overweight face an increased risk for sleep apnea and the potentially life-threatening complications that accompany it. The results of a recent study, however, suggest that moderate weight loss can help prevent the progression of sleep apnea and, in conjunction with a physician-recommended treatment plan, may even contribute to the reversal of sleep apnea symptoms.

St. Joseph dentist Dr. Sven Erickson has extensive experience helping patients treat sleep apnea and restore healthy, restful sleep. If you or a loved one suffers from loud, chronic snoring, please call Modern Dentistry Associates at 269-264-4388 to learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment; Dr. Erickson welcomes patients from the greater St. Joseph, Niles and Kalamazoo, Michigan, areas.

OSA is the most common and dangerous form of sleep apnea. In patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in the back of the throat become relaxed during sleep and block the airway; this causes apnea episodes, in which a person’s breathing stops repeatedly during sleep, and contributes to the loud snoring that is among the most widely reported symptoms of OSA.

These breathing interruptions can lead to low levels of oxygen in the blood and impact the oxygen supply to the brain, which in turn can cause cognitive problems. OSA can also contribute to more severe health problems, including hypertension, heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

The recently published findings of a Finnish study indicate that moderate weight loss among obese adults with OSA can help halt the progress of sleep apnea symptoms and even reverse symptoms over time. Participants in the Kuopio University Hospital study, which was conducted between 2004 and 2013, were moderately obese adults diagnosed with OSA. Subjects were split into two groups, one of which underwent a year-long, supervised lifestyle intervention program, the other of which received standard general and verbal information about diet and physical activity.

Researchers’ theory that weight loss of about 5 percent in obese patients could help stop the progression of OSA symptoms, while sustained weight loss could improve the condition itself, was echoed by the results of a four-year follow-up. Additional study into weight loss and its effects on sleep apnea is ongoing, but it’s important to consider lifestyle choices as part of an overall treatment plan.

Dr. Erickson has helped numerous patients treat sleep apnea with the use of custom-made oral appliances. These devices are worn during sleep and are designed to maintain an open airway as you sleep.

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic snoring or other sleep apnea symptoms, please contact Modern Dentistry Associates today. Dr. Erickson welcomes patients from the greater St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Niles and South Bend areas.

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