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Links between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes

Photo credit: PhotoMIX Ltd.Research over the past few years has consistently shown the correlation between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and weight gain. Now studies are more specifically targeting the link between OSA and Type 2 diabetes, which are both highly prevalent conditions threatening public health in the U.S.

Staggering Facts:

  • Approximately 70% of adult OSA sufferers are overweight or obese.
  • Over 100 million Americans have some form of diabetes.
  • 22 million suffer from sleep apnea (80% of cases with Type II or Type III OSA go undiagnosed).
  • Type III OSA sufferers have a 30% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Type I to Type II OSA sufferers have a 23% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Roughly 83% of patients with Type 2 diabetes suffer from unrecognized OSA.

What’s the connection?

Side effects from all these conditions tend to feed into one another causing a vicious cycle… weight gain can bring on sleep apnea because excess tissues around the neck and throat fall into your airway, resulting in a blockage. Adversely, someone with minor breathing disorder symptoms, who goes without treatment, may start to gain weight because of increased blood sugar levels due to stress associated with sleep deprivation and abrupt awakenings in the night. Quite simply, the more overweight you are, the worse your OSA can get!

Lack of quality sleep, caused by OSA, triggers a variety of hormonal responses resulting in unregulated hunger levels and excess food consumption. This hormonal imbalance can increase someone’s risk of gaining weight, worsening the underlying OSA. Increased blood sugar levels cause restlessness at night and additional overeating. If these levels continue to rise, they can do damage to other organs such as the eyes (glaucoma), kidneys, and heart. Over time, the increase in blood sugar levels can contribute to insulin resistance. This inefficient use of insulin can cause glucose to not be properly absorbed by the body, leading to, again, an increased appetite. To make things more challenging, for those trying to lose weight, the daytime fatigue brought on by OSA is known to keep patients from having energy to exercise.

“Untreated sleep apnea is associated with increases in glucose and poor quality of life stemming from chronic fatigue,” says David Marrero, PhD, Director of the Diabetes Translational Research Center. “It’s also associated with cardiovascular disease, which is why it’s so important for people to get their sleep apnea diagnosed and treated.”

Wondering if you should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you snore loudly?
  • Are you tired or fatigued during the day?
  • Has anyone observed that you stop breathing during sleep?
  • Do you have high blood pressure?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions, then book a complimentary consultation to discuss your sleep history and sleep apnea symptoms with Dr. Greg Greenberg. During this one hour consultation, a member of Dr. Greenberg’s team will take photos, plus a 3D Orthodontics Imaging scan to get a 3D model of your mouth to evaluate any airway, teeth or jaw concerns. Dr. Greenberg will come in and perform a thorough oral exam and review the photos and 3D imaging and discuss the appropriate treatment plan.

Treating obstructive sleep apnea will help break the cycle of hormone irregularity, giving you more energy to stick to an exercise routine, while also reducing the risk for serious health issues, like type 2 diabetes. Call the RxSmile office at 972-335-1300 to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Greenberg today.

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