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Homepage / About diabetes / Complications of diabetes / Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea


Diabetes is known to cause several complications such as vascular disease and foot problems. There is also a recognition that other conditions can occur with a high frequency in patients with type 2 diabetes, such as high blood pressure and abnormalities of cholesterol levels or interference with the male hormone – testosterone. One condition that has been the subject of much research is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) and it is now being realised that this is increasingly common in the population of people with diabetes.



What is OSA?


Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the structures at the back of the nose and throat (the nasopharynx) partially collapse during deep sleep and block the flow of air to the lungs. This can lead to heavy snoring, temporary cessation of breathing whilst asleep (often noticed by the individuals partner) and poor quality, unrefreshing sleep. Knock on consequences of this are daytime drowsiness, exhaustion, emotional disturbance and high blood pressure.

This blockage of the airway during the night means that there is a relative lack of oxygen getting round the body and contribute to a sluggish metabolism. OSA tends to occur in people who are overweight and this can make their diabetes control worse over time.


How to work out if you might have OSA.


It can be difficult to know if symptoms such as snoring are due to OSA, but if there is a persistent problem with stopping breathing during the night or excessive daytime sleepiness then it might be worth completing the following screening tool.






This questionnaire is designed to determine your levels of daytime sleepiness which tells us whether you are getting adequate sleep. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:


0 = would never doze or sleep.

1 = slight chance of dozing or sleeping

2 = moderate chance of dozing or sleeping

3 = high chance of dozing or sleeping










 Sitting and reading




 Watching TV




 Sitting inactive in a public place




 Being a passenger in a car or bus for

 more than an hour




 Lying down in the afternoon




 Sitting and talking to someone




 Sitting quietly after lunch (no alcohol)




 Stopped for a few minutes in traffic while










If your total score is greater than 9 it would be a good idea to speak to your doctor for further investigation.




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