The reduction in fat tissue of the tongue is associated with a decrease in the severity of obstructive sleep apnea in patients, scientists from the Medical School. Perelman University of Pennsylvania. Their study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that tongue fat reduction was an important factor in reducing the severity of OSA. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects millions of people. While obesity is a major risk factor for sleep apnea, there are other causes as well. For those patients who cannot take CPAP therapy, alternative treatments such as oral appliances or upper airway surgery may be more difficult.
In 2014, Mr. Schwab conducted a study comparing obese patients with sleep apnea with non-obese patients. He found that sleep apnea patients had larger tongues and more body fat. The next goal of scientists was to find out whether the condition would improve with a decrease in adipose tissue. The study included 67 patients who lost almost 10% of their body weight through diet or bariatric surgery. Improvement in sleep apnea after bariatrics averaged 31%. The study also showed that tongue fat reduction is a key factor in improving sleep apnea. The scientists look forward to further research to find out which diets and treatments may be more effective in reducing fat deposits in the tongue and other airway structures. However, Mr. Schwab noted that these methods have not yet been tested in practice.
The research team is looking at new treatments and risk factors for sleep apnea, including the possibility that the presence of fatty tissue in the tongue may predispose to the condition even in non-obese patients. The study also found that Asians have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, highlighting the need for screening for the condition in all patients who snore or are sleepy, including those with a normal BMI. Physicians and dentists should also ask patients questions about snoring and sleepiness to identify the possible presence of sleep apnea.