Pickwickian Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Methods

By on November 10, 2011

Pickwickian SyndromePickwickian syndrome is a breath related sleep disorder, which is also known as Obesity hypoventilation syndrome. This is a condition, where obese people are not able to breathe deep enough and breathe rapidly. This in turn results in lowered oxygen levels and increased carbon dioxide levels in blood.

People with syndrome experience obstructive sleep apnea. As a result, experience excessive daytime sleepiness. This syndrome can even sometimes result in heart failure. The exact causes of this syndrome are still unknown. But, it is believed that the causes of this syndrome are due to obesity and brain’s improper control over breathing.

Pickwickian Syndrome Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of this syndrome are loss of sleep, sleep disruption, excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, headaches, and hypertension. People suffering with this syndrome show signs such as swollen legs, feeling tired even for doing works that indulge smaller amount of effort, shortness in breath, and lips, toes, finger will be bluish color.


Pickwickian syndrome diagnosis is not possible just from history or examination itself. There are certain criterions to be followed for diagnosing, such as the person’s BMI is more than 30, Arterial CO2 levels are greater than 45mmHg, and experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. Different diagnosing tests are done for diagnosing each criterion. Arterial blood gases test for diagnosing the CO2 levels, and polysomnogram for diagnosing OSA.


Reducing weight using diet, exercising, and sometimes with medications and weight loss surgery is considered the main technique for treating pickwickian syndrome. This in turn will help in reducing OSA episodes; increase in oxygen levels in blood, and reduces daytime sleepiness episodes.

Apart from this weight loss technique CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device can be used to reduce the OSA episodes during sleep, thereby allowing breathing properly during sleep. There are several types of CPAP devices available in market.

Medroxyprogesterone, and Acetazolamide can be using for treating. These medications help in improving the ventilatory responses. But, there are no sufficient studies have been conducted on these medications with respect to the Pickwickian syndrome treatment. This syndrome is definitely reversed by following the treatment techniques.

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