In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the upper airway narrows orcollapses during sleep, cutting off breathing. People with OSA maybe aroused hundreds of times each night, just enough to startbreathing again.
Usually the sleeper doesn't recall the partial waking episodes,but feels tired every day. If you have type 2 diabetes, especiallyif you're overweight, and you feel sluggish all the time, it maywell be the fault of OSA.
Recently our Advisory Board member Daniel Einhorn, MD, tested 279type 2 patients for OSA at the Whittier Institute for Diabetes. Afull 36 percent of his patients had it. Men were twice as likely tohave it as women, especially if they were over 62 years old.
If you have type 2 diabetes, Dr. Einhorn advises that you getyourself screened for OSA. Estimates are that up to ninety percentof people who have it remain undiagnosed. It's not something youwant to live with, however, because it's associated with insulinresistance, higher A1c's, and a number of other dire long-termeffects, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, depression,sexual dysfunction, and even an increased risk of car crashes.
Conversely, treating OSA improves glucose metabolism and diabetescontrol. And a good night's sleep can have a salutary effect on yourability to stick with a healthy diet or exercise regimen.
The most effective non-surgical treatment for OSA is nasalcontinuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP machine has aclear plastic mask worn over the nose and mouth, a lot like a divingmask, that forces air into the airway during sleep, therebypreventing the airway from collapsing. (It's a lot more comfortablethan you might expect from the description. We tried one on at arecent diabetes conference, and it wasn't tight or uncomfortable atall.)
If you have type 2, especially if you're an overweight man, ask yourdoctor to test you for sleep apnea or consult one of the AmericanAcademy of Sleep Medicine's (AASM) accredited sleep facilities. Fora listing of facilities in your area, go to www.SleepCenters.org.
Sources: Medline Plus; The Whittier Institute for Diabetes; AmericanAcademy of Sleep Medicine
Editor's Note: My brother went undiagnosed forsleep apnea and suffered all kinds of problems, includingfibromyalgia, as a result. We were very relieved when he finally gota CPAP machine.