Study Shows Diabetes Risk Heightened by Sleep Apnea

sleeping man with sleep apnea

Researchers have long noted a link between sleep apnea and diabetes, since both conditions are prevalent in overweight populations. However, the findings from a new study provide unequivocal evidence on the correlation between the sleep disorder and problems with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. In addition, the findings support previous notions that patients who have already been diagnosed with one of the conditions be screened for the other.

In the past, research on obstructive sleep apnea and the development of Type II diabetes has been limited at best. Most studies were performed on a short-term basis and were restricted to small numbers of participants. Now, evidence gleaned by lead study author Mako Nagayoshi of Japan’s Nagasaki University School of Biomedical Science illustrates that people with severe sleep apnea are a staggering 70 percent more likely to develop diabetes.

Obesity raises risk for sleep apnea & diabetes

The Japanese researchers included more than 1,450 participants, all of whom had some degree of sleep apnea at the beginning of the research, which was categorized as mild, moderate or severe. Study participants had a median age of 63, and had no evidence of blood sugar level problems at the start of the trial.

285 of the study participants developed Type II diabetes after a period of 13 years, report the study authors. The results underscore the need for increased awareness and screening for sleep apnea, as it is a proven risk factor for diabetes and a slew of other health problems.

“Behaviors such as healthy weight maintenance and reducing time in sedentary activities would simultaneously reduce the risk [of] developing sleep apnea and diabetes,” Paul Peppard, a sleep disorder specialist who was not involved in the study, told Reuters.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of Americans with sleep apnea who have not been properly diagnosed for the condition, putting them at added risk for blood sugar problems, Type II diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

Sleep apnea diagnosis & treatment

Sleep apnea is a chronic disorder that disrupts your sleep, causing extremely shallow breathing or actual pauses in breathing. People with mild forms of obstructive sleep apnea may not be aware of their condition, thinking they are simply heavy snorers or just feeling fatigued in the mornings. The problem happens when tissues collapse in the back of the throat, blocking the airway. Over months and years, people with sleep apnea are habitually deprived of solid sleep, and may awaken dozens of times each night. This in turn, negatively impacts health and increases the chances of having a workplace or automobile accidents.

Doctors and sleep disorder specialists can accurately diagnose OSA with in-home or laboratory studies that monitor your sleep. For many years, the only way to manage sleep apnea was with Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which while effective, is not user-friendly. Individuals who have mild or moderate levels of sleep apnea may benefit from tongue retaining or jaw repositioning devices – otherwise known as Oral Appliance Therapy.

Oral appliance therapy in Long Island

An oral appliance is a custom-made mouthpiece that helps eliminate snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Because they are small, portable and comfortable, they are often the sleep apnea treatment of choice for patients of all ages. They function by repositioning your jaw or tongue to help keep your airway open throughout the night. No larger than an orthodontic retainer, oral appliances are also much more affordable than a CPAP machine, and are not associated with dry mouth, dry eyes, claustrophobia, or other adverse side effects.

Long Island dentists Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot offer Oral Appliance Therapy to qualified patients in their Suffolk County dental practice. To learn more about this innovative sleep apnea treatment, please call Long Island Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry and request a free consultation.

Resources:

  1. MassDevice.com, Sleep apnea may increase diabetes risk http://www.massdevice.com/sleep-apnea-may-increase-diabetes-risk/
  2. SleepEducation.org, Sleep Apnea – Overview & Facts http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/sleep-apnea

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Ava Lawson

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