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Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes

Recent research shows that as many as 50% of patients with diabetes also have sleep apnea and that 97% of those who are obese and have type 2 diabetes suffer from sleep apnea. Based on those numbers it has become clear that people with diabetes should also be screened for sleep apnea.

What exactly is sleep apnea?
This is a condition in which persons stop breathing for 10 seconds or so during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Common symptoms include: snoring, constant fatigue, poor concentration, depression, lack of energy, weight gain/loss, and hypertension.

The good news is that sleep apnea is easily treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). During CPAP therapy a bedside device gently delivers pressurized air to the person’s airway through a small nasal mask or pillow system.

Studies from the University of Chicago, as well as several other studies have shown marked improvement in glucose control and insulin sensitivity with CPAP therapy in patients with sleep apnea.

Treating sleep apnea helps a person stay awake throughout the day, improves glucose control, increases energy, lowers blood pressure, and helps improve cardiac function.

If you have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, ask your doctor to be screened and if indicated, referred to a sleep clinic.

** Adapted from an article in the Kentucky Diabetes Connection by Virginia Zamudio Lange, RN, MSN, CDE, 2008.