Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Is Tongue Fat Foiling Your Good Night’s Sleep?

Multiple studies have linked obesity to an increased risk of sleep apnea. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that increased deposits of fat in one part of the body might contribute to sleep apnea symptoms: the tongue.

The results of the Penn study found that obese subjects who presented with sleep apnea symptoms tended to have larger tongues and more tongue fat than obese patients who didn’t have the sleep disorder. The fat was concentrated at the base of the tongue, which is situated at the opening of the throat.

Results from the study didn't establish a causal relationship between tongue fat and sleep apnea. However, researchers did note that extra fat could make the tongue lose muscle tone and collapse into the airway during sleep, obstructing proper breathing.

Though an absolute relationship between “fat tongue” and sleep apnea hasn’t been established, there are steps you can take to maintain the tone of your tongue while you rest, including:

  • Build up muscles in the tongue with simple at-home exercises
  • Don’t overindulge in alcohol or sleeping aids
  • Lose weight through healthy diet and a fitness regimen
Obesity has many adverse health effects, so talking to your doctor about lifestyle modifications sooner than later could be a major benefit for your overall health.

If you believe you’re suffering sleep apnea symptoms due to excess fat or other causes, please contact a local sleep doctor or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today for more information.

posted by Admin at 9:14 AM