Will changing diet prevent sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 01/22/2013.
I have been told by my general practitioner that I have sleep apnea. She wants me to get a sleep study and to see a specialist. I snore and my wife says that I stop breathing during the night. I am overweight. I weigh 220 pounds. I want to start eating healthy and exercising. Will this help my sleep apnea?

Doctors Answers (5)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

It is possible that losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle could help with sleep apnea.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 1/25/2013

Weight loss, when over weight, is always advantageous to health. It sometimes improves obstructive sleep apnea. Some people have sleep apnea due to the anatomy of their airway and its collapsibility. Patients are frequently more successful with weight loss once sleep apnea is fixed. This is in part due to the positive impact a good night sleep has on metabolism and the increase in energy necessary to increase activity (calories burned). If successful with weight loss we often will re-evaluate the changes in sleep apnea.

Jeannine Louise Gingras, MD
Answered on: 1/23/2013

No. Not in the short term. But depends on the severity of the sleep apnea. Clearly weight is a factor.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 1/23/2013

A diet and exercise may help sleep apnea. This would include a low calorie diet to help with weight loss. This may not eliminate the apnea but may reduce the severity PLUS other medical conditions may improve. I agree with your doctor. You should proceed with a sleep medicine consultation. Weight loss is a slow process but is easier if you are treated for sleep apnea.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 1/23/2013

In cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea or positional sleep apnea (increased apneas on back but few or no apneas on side), weight loss may cure sleep apnea and even reduce or cure snoring. You need to be tested to determine the severity of your apnea and what options are available to you. Weight loss is highly recommended for other health concerns but is of paramount importance in treating sleep apnea.