Diabetics who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may face an increased risk for a painful condition known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, according to a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom.
The research, the findings of which were reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, focused on 234 adults with a mean age of 57 years who have type 2 diabetes. Sixty-five percent of the patients were diagnosed with OSA, with 40 percent of patients suffering from moderate to severe OSA.
The prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy—a nerve disorder that can cause pain or numbness in the hands, arms, feet and legs—was significantly greater in patients who suffered from sleep apnea. According to the study, 60 percent of the diabetic patients with OSA experienced neuropathy while only 27 percent of the diabetics without sleep apnea experienced neuropathy.
Although the role of sleep apnea in the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy warrants further review, researchers noted that nitrotyrosine and lipid peroxide levels were elevated in patients with OSA.
This findings of this study demonstrate yet another reason why it’s important to undergo evaluation if you experience any symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea has been associated with numerous severe health problems if not treated.
Fortunately, the burgeoning field of dental sleep medicine provides a number of treatment options, including the use of comfortable, custom-made oral appliances.