You might not know it, but you could have sleep apnea. One study found that nearly nine out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes and obesity also have obstructive sleep apnea that has never been diagnosed.
Sleep apnea means that during sleep your breathing becomes shallow or stops briefly. Then, within a few seconds to minutes, you usually breathe normally again. You might snort, choke, or gasp for air as you go back to breathing normally. These spells may repeat many times each hour.
In obstructive sleep apnea, shallow breathing or a pause in breathing happens because tissue narrows or blocks part of your airway -- your nose, mouth, throat, and windpipe. For instance, your tongue or tonsils might clog your airway; your airway might close up when your throat muscles relax; or extra fat around your windpipe might make the space inside it smaller.
Most people with sleep apnea don't know they have a problem because they are asleep when it happens. A family member may be the first to point out the signs. People with sleep apnea may snore loudly and may feel sleepy during the day because their nighttime sleep is disrupted. Without treatment, sleep apnea raises your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. It also raises the risk for obesity in people who aren't already obese.
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Find Relief from Sleep Apnea
If you think you have breathing problems during sleep, talk with your doctor. He or she may ask about your breathing and sleep, look at your airway, and recommend a sleep study. Sleep studies are tests that monitor your body during sleep.
To relieve sleep apnea, your doctor might suggest losing weight if you are overweight or obese. Apnea might also improve if you:
If these steps aren't enough, other options include wearing a special plastic mouthpiece during sleep or wearing a mask connected to a machine that gently blows air into your airway during sleep. These can help keep your airway open.
Always consult your physician for more information.