Every 23 seconds, someone in this country is diagnosed with diabetes. Let that sink in for a moment. It is a disease that has made a huge impact in the United States as nearly 30 million Americans have already been diagnosed and another 86 million have prediabetes and are at risk for developing the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Each November, the ADA works to raise awareness of diabetes, a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated blood glucose levels. The vast majority of cases in America are of type 2 diabetes, which causes the body to either not produce enough insulin or not respond to existing insulin. In 2016, the ADA launched a campaign called #ThisIsDiabetes, intended to encourage those with diabetes and their families to share their stories and encourage others at risk to get tested.
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be both frightening and overwhelming. Learning to manage the disease involves checking blood glucose levels throughout the day as well as administering insulin injections as needed. But, as many who shared their diabetes stories professed, the key to living with diabetes is to learn as much as you can and to face the disease head on. Along with treating the disease itself, this learning process may involve managing other health problems that frequently occur alongside the disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
OSA is very common in people with diabetes and vice versa. In fact, a 2013 study in Family Medicine found that nearly half of adults with type 2 diabetes are at high risk for OSA, and many of these cases go undiagnosed.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the airway, which takes place when the tongue and muscles relax during sleep, the lower jaw falls back toward the throat or the airway becomes blocked. People with untreated sleep apnea may stop breathing hundreds of times a night without realizing it. OSA can increase blood glucose levels because of the stress associated with long-term sleep deprivation and abrupt awakenings during the night. Over time, these increases in glucose levels can contribute to insulin resistance.
Additionally, diabetes can also contribute to OSA. This is because those with type 2 diabetes may be obese, insulin resistant, and have large amounts of fat around the organs and the neck. The extra weight causes the tissues in your neck and throat to fall into your airway, resulting in blockage of the airway.
The good news is that if you do have diabetes and OSA, treating each condition may have a positive impact on the other. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that anyone with Type 2 diabetes be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea by a board-certified sleep medicine physician. A sleep study will determine whether or not you have OSA and, if so, what the severity is. Thankfully, sleep apnea is treatable. At the Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders our providers are trained to treat OSA with a comfortable oral appliance, similar to a mouthguard. By treating your sleep apnea, you may be able to reduce your glucose levels and even improve some of the long-term complications of diabetes.
For more information contact the Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders to get treatment for Snoring, Sleep Apnea, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) with a comfortable oral appliance.