Weight loss helps control sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Friday, April 13, 2012
4/13/12 at 6:12 AM
Dear Doctor K: I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Then, shortly afterward, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Could the two be related?
Dear Reader: One way they could be related is if you are overweight. The heavier you are, the greater your risk of both conditions.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops during adulthood among people who are overweight. Being overweight causes your cells to resist the effects of insulin, a hormone that drives sugar (glucose) from the blood into cells.
When that happens, sugar builds up in your blood. If this happens consistently, you can develop Type 2 diabetes.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the upper airway - particularly the back of the throat and tongue - relaxes too much during sleep. This causes repeated interruptions to breathing. Oxygen levels in your blood may drop because airflow into your lungs is blocked.
The symptoms include snoring and snorting during sleep. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, someone watching you sleep (like your spouse) may notice periods of 15-40 seconds when you don't seem to be breathing. If this happens more than 30 times an hour, the condition is considered severe. During the day, you may have sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. The condition is more common in men than women, and more common in adults as they get older.
There is some evidence from studies in animals and humans that sleep apnea also causes chemical changes that lead to insulin resistance. However, I don't think the evidence is very strong.
If you have Type 2 diabetes and you're overweight, you can help control the condition by losing weight. Losing weight can also help with sleep apnea.
If you have tried and failed to lose weight on your own, ask your doctor to hook you up with a nutritionist or dietitian who can assess your eating habits and start you on an exercise program.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106