The Truth Behind The Sleep Apnea And Diabetes Connection

The body is an interconnected system; that means if you’re already suffering from one health issue, oftentimes it can make other problems worse. In particular, if you are a type 2 diabetic, you need to make sure you’re getting quality sleep – otherwise, your current condition could become even more severe. Your dentist can tell you more about the link between diabetes and sleep apnea in Tysons Corner & Potomac as well as what it means for your health if you don’t get appropriate treatment.

 

WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?

Has your partner noticed that you snore loudly or that you periodically stop breathing while asleep? These could be signs of sleep apnea. This condition is normally caused by the airway becoming blocked somehow (often by relaxed muscles or tissues in the mouth or throat), preventing your body from getting much-needed oxygen.

Sleep apnea often leads to excessive drowsiness during the day. It can also cause your blood pressure to rise and – eventually – put you at risk for life-threatening heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

HOW IS SLEEP APNEA CONNECTED TO DIABETES?

Patients with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant; this means that their cells can’t properly absorb the glucose they need to function properly because they’re not responding correctly to the hormone that controls glucose absorption. As a result, the glucose stays in the blood. Over time uncontrolled glucose levels can cause vision problems, damaged nerves, and other complications.

So how is it connected to sleep apnea? When a sleep disorder prevents you from getting quality rest and repeatedly awakens you, it causes your body to release a stress hormone that causes glucose to be released into the liver. In other words, sleep apnea can increase your blood glucose levels – and if you already have diabetes, this only serves to make the damage done by diabetes worse.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU HAVE SLEEP APNEA AND DIABETES?

If you’ve been diagnosed with both sleep apnea and diabetes, your health depends on thoroughly addressing both conditions. With type 2 diabetes, that usually means monitoring your blood sugar or using diabetes medication or insulin therapy. As for sleep apnea treatment in Tysons Corner & Potomac, you can talk to a sleep dentist about oral appliance therapy. A custom-made appliance that keeps your airway unobstructed will help you sleep soundly without needing a noisy and uncomfortable CPAP machine. Certain lifestyle changes can also help; for example, since diabetes and sleep apnea are both often connected to obesity, losing weight often goes a long way towards relieving your symptoms.

Talk to your doctor as well as your dentist about potential warning signs of diabetes and sleep apnea. As soon as you notice any worrisome symptoms, make an appointment right away so that you can get the treatment you need to keep your body healthy and your nights restful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

At the Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Dr. Sam Osseiran received a Master of Science degree for inventing an intraoral prosthesis treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. At his practice, Just for Your Smile, he can offer oral appliance therapy for patients who are unable to tolerate a CPAP machine. To schedule a consultation, visit his website or call (703) 844-3203.

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