Many factors contribute to obesity and many medical problems are the result of it. These health issues make life difficult and unpleasant and may even shorten it. While your doctor can tell you more about the specific issues of concern regarding your health, here is some information about some of the common obesity-related conditions.
Common Medical Problems caused by Obesity
Type 2 Diabetes
People who are obese develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to your body.
High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
Excess body weight strains the ability of your heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can lead to stroke and inflict significant damage to the heart and kidneys.
Osteoarthritis of Weight-Bearing Joints
The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, can bring pain, caused by inflammation, along with speeding up the process of normal wear and tear. Also, the bones muscles in your back may be strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
Sleep Apnea/Respiratory Problems
Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can obstruct your airway. Because the obstruction is worse when you sleep on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.
Gastroesophageal Reflux and Heartburn
Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux. In the short term, this causes acid reflux and "heartburn" and over the long term, it may increase your risk of esophageal or throat cancer. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild, sporadic symptoms of heartburn go on to develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.
There is no question that obesity brings emotional challenges. People who are obese suffer when they experience repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends or being on the receiving end of sneers and remarks from strangers. Other problems include discrimination at work and an inability to sit comfortably in seats on a bus, train, plane or even at a movie theater. Social, psychological and economic consequences of obesity may make the problems even more devastating.
For both men and women, obesity brings hormonal changes that may interfere with your ability to conceive a child.
Urinary Stress Incontinence
The excess weight that obese people carry puts strain on the pelvic muscles (most especially for women who’ve given birth) and may weaken the valve on the urinary bladder, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Women who are obese may not have regular menstrual cycles or may experience other related problems, including cramps and abnormal menstrual flow.
Risk of Death
Research demonstrates that people who are morbidly obese have a shorter life expectancy. For example, obese people who weigh twice their ideal body weight (this describes between 2 - 6% of the US population) are at double the risk of early death compared to people who are not obese. The risk of death from diabetes or heart attack is five to seven times greater. There is also a condition called "end-stage" obesity, for which little or no treatment is available.
Are You a Candidate?
If you think you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery, talk to your primary care physician about Danbury Hospital, call 1-800-516-3657 for more information, or attend a free event and learn more about losing weight through bariatric surgery and if it’s right for you.