Does a Fat Neck Cause Sleep Apnoea?

When we talk of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), neck size matters. Sleep apnoea is a multi-factorial disease with a variety of recognized causes. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops for nearly ten seconds or more while one is asleep.

Neck size, if greater than sixteen or seventeen inches is indicative of excess fat in the neck region. This results in narrowing, compressing and crowding of the breathing tube, causing obstruction or blockage of the air passage while you are asleep all the more likely.

Does Fat Neck Cause Sleep Apnoea

Men and Women with a fat neck have excess fat deposits accumulated near the upper air passage that can obstruct breathing.

The Association Between Fat Neck & Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea happens when muscles at the back of your throat (pharynx) relax and temporarily restrict or block airflow as you sleep. Restricted airflow results in daytime exhaustion, and disrupted sleep.

Wheezing and snoring sounds occur while one is asleep, when air is pushed to squeeze down the throat to the lungs. In case, the airway is closed off completely, silence follows during a central or an obstructive apnoea event, followed by a strong gasping for air.

Several risks associated with sleep apnoea caused due to fat neck include increase in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, decrease in blood oxygen levels. All these problems strain the cardiovascular system, elevating your risk of developing heart problems such as hypertension and heart failure. People who are impacted repeatedly stop breathing and are usually startled awake by a choking reflex.

How Fat Neck Can Cause Sleep Apnoea?

Not every obese individual suffers from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea). However, gaining those extra pounds elevates the probability of having the OSA. The reason is increase in accumulation of fat in the neck area due to excessive weight gain, blocking breathing and resulting in obstructive sleep apnoea.

Narrower air passage is more likely to partially collapse resulting in hypopneas or, loud snoring with vibration. The best treatment recommended and suggested by sleep specialists is weight loss: Loss of even 10% of extra pounds significantly improves the condition or even get rid of sleep apnoea completely.


The circumference of neck is often evaluated and measured by sleep specialists since it can be as beneficial as weight and height to ascertain potential risk of having breathing issues during sleep.

As a general rule, fat and thick neck is considered to be a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring when the circumference is more than 43.2 centimetres for men and more than 40.6 centimetres in women. Treating obesity by doing some exercises and making some changes in diet plan not only reduces weight, but also helps in reducing the size of the neck.

If you suffer from sleep apnoea, a CPAP machine might be the answer. It provides a continuous flow of air to keep your breathing passages open while you sleep, getting rid of the sudden awakenings associated with sleep apnoea.

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