The Chicken or the Egg?

 In Conditions & Treatments

The Chicken or the Egg?

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You cannot read the newspaper or watch television these days without seeing something about obesity. Obesity is now considered to be an epidemic. Most recently, it was reported to represent 147 billion dollars a year in medical costs. More importantly, what need to find out what obesity is costing you in terms of your livelihood.

Studies have shown that four out of five obese patients have a “comorbid” condition. Comorbid conditions are when there are two or more conditions that occur at the same time and they are inter-linked. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea are all comorbid conditions.

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Looking at these conditions, or disorders, is like the old adage of the chicken and the egg. Which came first? It used to be commonly thought that if you are obese, you have a larger neck with excess tissue, and those helped cause sleep apnea. Many times that is a true statement. However, if you never get a restful night of sleep, what happens? You wake up tired, your body craves carbohydrates for energy and you need something to keep you awake in the afternoon. So, you drink some caffeinated soda. Then when you get home and you can barely stay awake, are you really going to exercise? Probably not. In fact, most things that sleep deprived individuals resort to increase the risk of obesity. They eat less healthy food, they become sedentary, and they do not exercise.

As with obesity, diabetes is on the rise. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often caused by lifestyle choices, where poor nutrition and low physical exercise lead to elevated blood glucose. Sounds familiar. So all you need is proper nutrition and more physical exercise and you will solve the problem. But almost 50 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. People with unmanaged sleep apnea lack the energy to exercise and they often do not eat the most nutritious meals.

Besides the physical links to diabetes, obesity and obstructive sleep apnea, there are also unique events that happen at those times when an obstructive apnea occurs. Hormonal and metabolic disturbances can lead to glucose intolerance and eventually type 2 diabetes. In addition, these periods cause low blood oxygen saturations, increased blood pressure and these can lead to the increase of hypertension, which can lead to congestive heart failure.

So how do we stop this process? Make an appointment with a physician and have a complete physical. Be sure to discuss your sleep. In fact, there is a new assessment called STOP. S for do you snore. T for are you tired or fatigued in the daytime. O for has anyone observed you stop breathing at night. And, P for are you being treated for high blood pressure. If you answer yes to any of those questions, they may want you to take another more in depth screening tool, a sleep test.

Have a sleep test done to determine if and how severe your sleep apnea is. This test screens for other sleep disorders as well. In some cases, you may even be able to have your diagnostic test performed in your own home.

Now is a great time to get your health back under control and add some extra quality to your life.

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