Friday, June 24, 2016

Is There A Link Between Sleep Apnea And Diabetes?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder in which one has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. The breathing pauses may occur 30 times or more an hour.

It can cause daytime fatigue, morning headaches, memory or learning problems, dry mouth or sore throat when one wakes up. People who have OSA cannot concentrate and may feel irritate, depressed or have mood swings or personality changes. In children, OSA can cause hyperactivity, poor school performance, and angry or hostile behavior. Children who have OSA also may breathe through their mouths instead of noise during the day.

Studies have shown that OSA is linked to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, and weight gain. A recent paper published July 1, 2015 in the ‘European Respiratory Journal’ found a link between OSA and increased blood sugar levels.

5,294 people without diabetes, who were part of the European Sleep Apnoea Cohort, were involved in the study. Severity of their sleep apnea was examined and their blood levels of glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c were measured.

HbA1c is an indicator for the average blood sugar level over time. Diabetics are known to have higher levels of HbA1c than non-diabetics. Higher levels are also an indicator of poor blood sugar control and a higher risk for heart disease. The target levels for HbA1c are between 4.0 and 5.9 percent for non-diabetics and up to 6.5 percent for diabetics.

Their findings indicated that levels of glucose concentration were significantly linked to the severity of sleep apnea. The participants were divided into groups based on their level of sleep apnea severity and HbA1c levels rose from 5.24 percent in the group with lowest severity to 5.50 percent in the group with the highest severity. The results held true even after taking into account factors like obesity, sex and daytime sleepiness.

Results of the study highlighted the importance for doctors to be aware of the risk of diabetes when treating sleep apnea. At the ATS 2012 International Conference, a study also showed that moderate and severe OSA predicted Type-2 diabetes, and that sleep apnea was linked to HbA1c levels.

Nevertheless, researchers stressed that further studies are still required to understand the mechanisms behind these 2 conditions. They also emphasized the importance of weight management as a way to lower the risks associated with the condition.

Doctors can diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical examination, and sleep study results. The family doctor may evaluate the symptoms first, and then decide whether one should see a sleep specialist. Sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery, depending on individual’s condition. Medicines are not used for treatment.

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