Diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, hearing impairment, and other health problems. Another condition that diabetics should be aware of is sleep apnea. Not only does sleep apnea make it difficult to breathe while sleeping, but can worsen a diabetic’s symptoms. As a result, this person might experience additional health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and in severe cases, stroke.
Below we’ve outlined the connection between diabetes and sleep apnea and the best ways to handle diagnosing and treating it — helping you manage diabetes more successfully.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the individual experiences an involuntary stopping and starting of breathing while sleeping. Typically the person with sleep apnea is unaware of this sleep disorder because the cessation of breathing doesn’t wake them — it is usually noticed by a partner who hears the person gasping for air or snoring loudly.
While sleep apnea is common in overweight patients, it’s important to note that it isn’t the only qualifying factor. Individuals with diabetes have a 50-50 chance of having sleep apnea.
The Connection Between Diabetes and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can make it much more difficult for those with diabetes to manage their condition. With each pausing of their breath in their sleep, the carbon dioxide levels in their blood increase. The increase of carbon dioxide in the blood can lead to:
- Frequent headaches
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased risk of heart disease
Those suffering from sleep apnea will often feel extremely lethargic during the day, even after having a full night’s rest. This lethargy can lead to other problems that impact a diabetics overall health, such as lack of motivation to stay active or prepare healthy meals. Inadequate sleep can also impact a diabetic’s relationships with their friends and family, as well as increase the chances of forgetting to take required medication needed to manage their diabetes.
The Importance of Sleep Apnea Testing
If a patient with diabetes is exhibiting symptoms of sleep apnea, such as frequent headaches, snoring or trouble breathing while sleeping, or lethargy and daytime sleepiness, they should receive a sleep assessment.
A home sleep study is more affordable and less time-consuming than a standard sleep study. The individual will receive the home sleep test and instructions on how to administer an overnight unattended sleep study. While sleeping, the device will record the patient’s blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, and how often their body moves blood oxygen saturation.
Following the self-administered test, the results will be analyzed by one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians who will provide a recommended treatment for sleep apnea, which in turn will help the management of diabetes. A common treatment is the use of an automatic positive airway pressure machine, otherwise known as APAP. A CPAP machine uses self-adjusting air pressure to keep the individual’s airways open while sleeping, thus helping with sleep apnea while also helping to improve blood sugar levels and improve diabetic conditions.
If sleep apnea is left untreated in a patient with diabetes, their symptoms can worsen over time and lead to the development of type-2 diabetes.
If you have any questions about ApneaMeds’ at home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment, contact our team to learn more.