Most of us understand how much pressure obesity puts on the body as a whole. This type of extra weight causes the body to work much harder than it was meant to just to perform simple functions. As a result, the organs of the body can suffer significant damage, including the liver.
The second largest organ in the body, the liver is also one of the most important, charged with processing everything we ingest so that it can be converted to the nutrients that our body uses for energy. The liver is also responsible for “cleaning” our blood, filtering any toxins from our system.
While a small amount of fat always exists in the liver, with increased weight comes increased fat accumulation in the liver. As fat accumulates to the point where 5% to 10% of the liver’s weight consists of fat, this is a condition known as fatty liver disease. Left untreated, fatty liver disease can cause the liver to swell and could result in a condition known as cirrhosis. Eventually this can lead to liver failure and even death.
Symptoms of fatty liver disease include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, itching, jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin, and swelling of the abdomen or legs.
The good news is that fatty liver disease can be reversed if addressed in the early stages and it can be done through a reduction of weight, a healthy diet, and exercise.
As one of the conditions that often results from obesity, fatty liver disease may propel someone to consider weight loss surgery in an effort to take back control of their life. As weight loss happens and a healthy diet and exercise regime is followed, the fat in the liver decreases and balance is restored. There is no time to waste when it comes to protecting your liver – and, as a result, your life – so if you are struggling with obesity, it may be time to consider some serious measures including weight loss surgery.
There are so many side-effects that occur as a result of obesity, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, acid reflex, and even cancer and infertility. And, of course, there is the fallout in day-to-day life – the lack of mobility and the activities that often have to be skipped because of the inability to move freely and/or the lack of energy that so often accompanies obesity. One other way that obesity affects daily life is its impact on sleep. Many people with obesity also suffer from sleep disorders including sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that can even be life-threatening.
Sleep apnea can affect people who are not obese – in fact, there are nearly 22 million people in the United States alone who suffer from this condition. But obesity is an identifying factor for many.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea due to obesity suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a common condition for those struggling with their weight. With increased weight comes an increased neck circumference. This can cause the muscles at the back of the throat to collapse which blocks airflow and causes shallow breathing or even pauses in breath. Each period can last at least 10 seconds and can happen multiple times during the night and even dozens of times over the course of one hour.
While it can be difficult to identify sleep apnea unless the sufferer has someone who notices it during the night, there are some symptoms that may signify its presence including:
- Dry or sore throat when waking in the morning.
- Fatigue, or in some cases sleeplessness.
- Depression or changes in mood.
A reduction in weight can reduce the circumference of the neck and lessen the pressure on the back of the throat, thus minimizing episodes of shallow breathing or apnea.
If left unchecked, however, sleep apnea can result in a host of conditions including low blood oxygen levels, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and even heart failure.