Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Walking Away From Sleep Apnea

An article today at Medscape News, by Laurie Barclay, MD suggests that effective weight loss can reduce the effects of sleep apnea, as its been shown that 60-70% of sufferers are overweight or obese. (Excessive neck fat is one common cause of sleep apnea, but not the only one.)

Wow, does that bring back some bad memories.  I used to suffer from sleep apnea and slept with a cpap machine every night.  It was one of those things I hated (just like drugs of any kind) and was determined to get rid of.  On the positive side, once you get used to sleeping with a mask over your nose forcing your airways to stay open while you snooze, the quality of sleep can be incredible!  But, it was cumbersome and a pain to drag around while traveling.  And most of all, for me, it was an artificial solution for a natural problem, as I was the classic case of middle-age overweight guy.

When first diagnosed, I asked my Doctor if there was a cure.  Her response was "if you lose 50 pounds, it MIGHT go away."  I filed that slight glimmer of hope away in the back of my head as I contemplated what to do next.  No, I didn't immediately go out and try to lose weight - that seemed too hard.  So instead I did what most people do when their health is affected by their weight - NOTHING!

Long story short, it took a few more "issues" to get me to change my attitude from "wanting to lose weight" to "focused on losing weight."  (As detailed in my book).  As the pounds came off, the health issues begin to disappear.  Once I lost the initial 50 pounds, I began to experiment with sleeping without the cpap machine.  Guess what? No Problem.  Today I am sleep apnea free and no longer tied to an external piece of equipment at night.

Sadly there are other causes of sleep apnea as evidenced by those with little or no neck fat, but as per the stats in Dr. Barclay's article, the majority of sufferers have weight issues.  Just think what would happen to the Medical Equipment business if all those patients took a new focus on life and lost weight???

So Dr. Barclay, you can use me as a poster child for the study, though for the record I am not in the age bracket that was tested, and I lost significantly more weight than those in the study.  But all things considered,  I walked away from sleep apnea - literally!

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