Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is a condition in some obese people in which poor breathing leads to lower oxygen and higher carbon dioxide levels in the blood.
The exact cause of OHS is not known. Doctors believe OHS results from a defect in the brain's control over breathing. Excess weight against the chest wall also makes it harder for the muscles to draw in a deep breath and to breathe quickly enough. As a result, the blood contains too much carbon dioxide and not enough oxygen.
The main symptoms of OHS are due to lack of sleep and include:
Malhotra A, Powell F. Disorders of ventilatory control. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 86.
Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.