Dr Heikal Mahmoud Clinic

The effect of obesity on respiration

sleep apnea due to excess weight

Obesity is an increase in body fat accumulation as a result of overeating, lack of movement, genetic factors, or taking certain medications. The increased body fat begins to accumulate around the abdominal area and causes pressure on the lungs and diaphragm. Therefore, obese patients complain of snoring during sleep and difficulty to breathe, which may lead to hypoventilation syndrome. 

Most obese patients suffer from breathing problems, especially during sleep. When sleep apnea occurs, it forces the patient to wake up frequently. As a result, the obese patient suffers from insomnia and fatigue. 

Studies have shown that an increase in body mass index causes a decrease in the expiratory volume, which means that the more obesity, the less lung volume and its air carrying capacity in the processes of inhalation and exhalation. 

How does obesity affect the respiratory system and lead to impaired lung function? 
1- The fat accumulation around the lungs, rib cage, and under the diaphragm hinders the expansion of the lungs during the inhalation and exhalation processes. Therefore, the muscles responsible for breathing processes work more as a result of pressure, which leads to a feeling of shortness of breath, especially when making any effort. 

2- Sleep apnea occurs as a result of relaxed pharyngeal muscles and the back of the tongue, which leads to the tongue falling backward during sleep, which causes tightness in the throat. 

3- Reduced sensitivity of the breathing centers in the brain and its poor response, due to lack of oxygen and the increase in carbon dioxide, weakens the breathing process. 

What are the symptoms of hypoventilation syndrome? 
1- Sleep apnea that may occur more than once during the night. 
2- Fatigue, drowsiness, and lethargy throughout the day as a result of the disruption of sleep schedules. 
3- Headache due to lack of oxygen and improper breathing. 
4- Feeling depressed as a result of interrupted sleep. 
5- Feeling unable to breathe even when doing the least effort. 
6- Snoring during sleep. 

Can you get rid of breathing problems by getting rid of obesity? 
Yes, the ideal solution to get rid of shortness of breath and sleep apnea problems is by getting rid of obesity and reaching your ideal weight, as it is the main reason for the emergence of these symptoms. Also, some research has revealed that if treatment is neglected for long periods, it may lead to pulmonary arterial hypertension, liver congestion, and swelling of the feet, which is known as respiratory depression. 

The most appropriate way to get rid of obesity and treat breathing problems is by performing a bariatric operation such as Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass, which have proven an endless success in treating cases of obesity and getting rid of the associated complications without any pain or effort. 

Now, you can know all the details about your body mass index and what your ideal weight is, and how you can achieve it through Dr. Heikal Mahmoud’s clinic, a consultant bariatric surgeon, who will provide you with the most appropriate operation for your condition after measuring your BMI.