The Link Between Tongue Fat and Sleep Apnea
Did you know that you can alleviate the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea by losing fat in your tongue? According to experts, there is a very close connection between tongue fat and sleep apnea. A new study has shown that losing the fat in your tongue can boost your sleep while tongue fat, on the other hand, increases the risk of this sleep disorder.
According to a report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, simply by losing fat in your tongue, you can alleviate the symptoms of the sleep disorder which occurs when people stop and start breathing during sleep.
People with obstructive sleep apnea wake up constantly during sleep and they usually snore. What’s more, OSA increases the risk of hypertension and stroke. A huge risk factor for OSA is obesity and having a recessed jaw or large tonsils.
Dr Richard Schwab, the chief of sleep medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania led the study. He and his team used MRI scans to look at how weight loss affected the upper airway. They came to the conclusion that one of the primary factors for relieving the severity of OSA is lowering the tongue fat.
Until now, it has been a common knowledge that losing weight can help with easing the condition. However, no research has been done on the fat loss in the tongue.
“Now that we know tongue fat is a risk factor and that sleep apnea improves when tongue fat is reduced, we have established a unique therapeutic target that we’ve never had before,” Dr Richard Schwab said.
The research Dr Richard Schwab and his team conducted discovered that patients with obesity and OSA had larger tongues and higher percentages of tongue fat. That’s why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends doctors examine tongue fat in patients with sleep apnea.
The study included 67 participants with obesity and mild to severe OSA. They had MRI scans conducted on their pharynx and abdomen. Then, during the next 6 months, the patients lost about 10 percent of their weight. Then, the same participants had another MRI and it showed that their sleep apnea symptoms were alleviated by 31 percent. What’s more, the researchers discovered that tongue fat loss was the biggest link between weight loss and OSA improvement.
Tongue Fat Treatment
It isn’t known yet how exactly tongue fat can be reduced or treated. Nevertheless, if you want to lose tongue fat you can start doing some exercises, such as playing the didgeridoo. Moreover, tongue liposuction might also be a potential solution. The best possible way to lose tongue fat is by losing bodyweight, which can show results in the tongue. This doesn’t mean that people who don’t have excess weight are not at risk for sleep apnea. Thus, if you notice any symptoms of this sleep disorder, get yourself tested. There are many people who are not obese but have fatty tongues. Anyone who experiences snoring or sleepiness should be screened for OSA, even if they aren’t in a typical high-risk category, such as having obesity.