Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
Posted in Sleep disorders

Obesity hypoventilation syndrome

Also know as Pickwickian Syndrome, obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is a breathing disorder that affects some people who have been diagnosed with obesity. The syndrome causes you to have too much carbon dioxide and too little oxygen in your blood. Without treatment it can lead to serious and even life-threatening health problems.

What causes obesity  hypoventilation syndrome?

While we do not know the exact cause of OHS,  believe OHS results from a defect in the brain’s control over breathing. Excess weight against the chest wall also makes it harder for the muscles to draw in a deep breath and to breathe quickly enough. As a result, the blood contains too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen.

What are symptoms of OHS?

The main symptoms of OHS are due to lack of sleep and include:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Sleep apnea
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Symptoms of low blood oxygen level (chronic hypoxia) can also occur. Symptoms include shortness of breath or feeling tired after very little effort.

How do you diagnose obesity hypoventilation syndrome?

People with OHS are usually very overweight. A physical exam may reveal:

  • Bluish color in the lips, fingers, toes, or skin (cyanosis)
  • Reddish skin
  • Signs of right-sided heart failure (cor pulmonale), such as swollen legs or feet, shortness of breath, or feeling tired after little effort

Signs of excessive sleepiness
Tests used to help diagnose and confirm OHS include:

Arterial blood gas

  • Chest x-ray or CT scan to rule out other possible causes
  • Lung function tests (pulmonary function tests)
  • Sleep study (polysomnography)
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart)

People with OHS has a high carbon dioxide level in their blood when awake.

Sleeping

Sleeping

How do  you treat Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome? 

Treatment involves breathing assistance using special machines called mechanical ventilation.

Options include:

Noninvasive mechanical ventilation such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) through a mask that fits tightly over the nose or nose and mouth (mainly for sleep)
Oxygen therapy

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How can W8MD help?

Sleep Medicine Program uses state of the art technology including the convenient home sleep studies or in lab sleep diagnostic studies to diagnose and treat over 80 different sleep disorders including sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, insomnia to name a few. Learn More…

Prab R. Tumpati, MD. Dr. Tumpati is the founder and medical director of W8MD Weight Loss, Sleep and MedSpa Centers. Dr Tumpati is board certified physician practicing sleep medicine, obesity medicine, aesthetic medicine and internal medicine. Dr. Tumpati’s passion is to educate patients and get to the root of the problem rather than "band aid medicine". As a physician with fellowship training in Obesity Medicine, Dr. Tumpati has a unique approach to wellness, weight loss, and medical aesthetics with a focus on prevention rather than cure. Dr. Tumpati takes pride in helping patients come of many chronic life style medications such as blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes medications by helping them lose weight and change their life style. Dr Tumpati believes in evidence based medicine rather than fad diets that do not work and works with each patient taking their unique situation in to consideration that causes them to gain weight so he can find a customized solution. Serving as the medical director of the W8MD's New York City, Cherry Hill NJ and greater Philadelphia offices, Dr Tumpati is the leading weight loss, sleep and aesthetic medicine physician in the tristate areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

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