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Living With Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome

Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) can be very serious. However, following your treatment plan can help improve your breathing. Treatment also can:

  • Help you avoid serious health problems, such as pulmonary hypertension
  • Improve your quality of life and help you lose weight
  • Improve your symptoms, such as poor sleep, daytime sleepiness, and poor concentration

Ongoing Care

To make sure your treatment is working, see your doctor for ongoing care. Tell him or her if your treatment is causing any side effects or problems.

CPAP and BiPAP Treatment

If your doctor has prescribed CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), use your machine as directed. You may find that it takes time to adjust to this treatment.

If you can't adjust to the CPAP or BiPAP machine, or if it doesn't seem to work well, talk with your doctor or home equipment provider. You may need to switch to a different device or mask. If you're having side effects from CPAP or BiPAP, your doctor may be able to treat them.

Weight-Loss Treatment

Weight loss will likely be part of your treatment plan. Your doctor will work with you to create a reasonable weight-loss plan. Your doctor and other members of your health care team can help you meet your weight-loss goals.

For more information about weight-loss treatments and for tips on losing weight, go to the Health Topics Overweight and Obesity article.

Other Treatment Concerns

OHS can cause daytime sleepiness. Until this symptom is fully treated, know the dangers of driving or using heavy machinery while sleepy.

If you're having surgery, tell your surgeon and health care team that you have OHS. Some medicines routinely used for surgery can worsen your condition.

Ask your doctor when you should contact him or her or seek emergency medical care. In an emergency, call 9–1–1. You may want to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace to alert others to your medical needs.

Family Support

If you have a family member who has OHS, you can help him or her achieve success with treatment. Tell his or her doctor about any signs or symptoms you've noticed.

For example, many people who have OHS also have obstructive sleep apnea. Family members or bed partners usually are the first to notice symptoms, such as loud snoring and pauses in breathing. Telling the doctor about these symptoms can help him or her diagnose and treat your family member promptly.

Encourage your family member to seek medical help when needed and to follow up with his or her doctor regularly. You also can help your family member adopt healthy lifestyle habits, such as following a healthy diet and being physically active.

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January 27, 2012