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Obesity Hypoventilation


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Obesity hypoventilation – also known as Pickwickian syndrome – is a breathing disorder that affects some people with obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity hypoventilation (OHS) occurs when there is too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen (hypoxemia) in the blood. The cause of OHS is not fully understood.

Symptoms of OHS result from lack of sleep, and may include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Sleep apnea

When left untreated, OHS can lead to serious complications, including leg edema (swelling), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), and can even be life-threatening.


Sleep Endoscopy Sleep endoscopy, also called drug-induced sleep endoscopy, is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the doctor to see what’s happening in the upper airways while you’re sedated. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera through the nose to view the degree of collapse at different levels of the airway. The procedure is performed in an operating room as an outpatient (no overnight hospital stay) and takes about a day to recover.

Sleep Study An adult or pediatric sleep study (also called polysomnography) is performed in our sleep clinic. While you sleep, we collect information such as breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, brain wave activity, muscle tone, heart rhythm, and eye movements. This information is captured using small, painless electrodes attached to your body and elastic bands around your chest and abdomen. Because we’re open 24/7, we offer a variety of studies including round-the-clock, all-night, CPAP titration, multiple latency, and maintenance wakefulness.


CPAP and BiPAP Therapies Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a breathing machine that constantly pushes air through the nose, or nose and mouth, to keep the airways open while you sleep. The therapy involves a variety of masks and pressure settings based on your specific needs. CPAP is a very effective non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Modern devices are small, quiet, and more comfortable than older versions.

For people with difficulty exhaling using CPAP machines, BiPAP therapy can help. BiPAP breathing machines use bilevel pressure, or one level for inhalation and a lower level for exhalation, making it easier to breathe.

Medicine Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce symptoms that make it even harder to breath. These can include nasal spray decongestants to thin mucus or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Weight Loss Obesity and extra weight can cause or worsen symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea by adding pressure to the upper airway system. Our sleep medicine and bariatrics teams can help you reach optimum health with exercises, nutritional counseling, and behavioral health services.

Why Choose UHealth?

Regional leaders in sleep medicine and sleep surgery. As a fully accredited comprehensive sleep center, our program meets and exceeds the rigorous standards set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This designation recognizes our facility, services, and providers for the highest commitment to safety and quality care.

Experts who recognize and treat all forms of sleep-disordered breathing problems. We understand how breathing problems can progress from snoring during childhood to upper airway resistance and obstructive sleep apnea during adulthood. This means we recognize and treat symptoms early, so you get the right care for your specific condition.

Innovative non-surgical and surgical therapies for obstructive sleep apnea. We offer comprehensive therapies to treat obstructive sleep apnea, including myofunctional therapy, minimally invasive upper airway stimulation, and endoscopic sinus surgery. You have access to a variety of treatments all in one place.

Sleep studies offered 24/7 in a state-of-the-art sleep center. You can rest assured that you receive the most advanced care available. Sleep studies and tests are conducted in a modern, comfortable center that includes the latest technology and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

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