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September 23, 2009 > Men's Health Fair and Panel Discussion: Sleep Disorders and Diabetes

Men's Health Fair and Panel Discussion: Sleep Disorders and Diabetes

Learn How Often Undiagnosed Conditions Can Impact Your Health

Sleep. You probably don't think much about it at all unless you're not getting any at night. And diabetes. Often the early symptoms - such as frequent urination, excessive thirst or hunger, fatigue, irritability, blurry vision or unusual weight loss - can seem harmless enough when taken out of context.

But sleep disorders and diabetes represent two considerable issues in men's health.

To address these topics and others, Washington Hospital will host a Men's Health Fair at Washington Hospital on Saturday, October 3 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

Health care panelists speaking at the fair will include physicians specializing in lung health, urology and sleep disorders, as well as a dietitian, who will focus on preventing diabetes through nutrition. Attendees will also have access to a number of booths and men's health screenings, including prostate screening.

Special guest Shooty Babbit, former baseball player with the Oakland A's will sign autographs and talk to participants at one of the fitness booths during the health fair. Registration for the health fair is required and pre-qualification for the prostate screening (separate registration) is required. Call (800) 963-7070 to register. (Sorry, no walk-ins).

Sleep and your health

You might be surprised by what you don't know about common sleep disorders, according to Dr. Nitun Verma, medical director of the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders.

"There are sleep conditions that are more prevalent in men than women, such as obstructive sleep apnea, that can significantly affect men's daily lives," Dr. Verma says. "Only one out of 10 people with sleep apnea get treatment in the U.S. What we are trying to do is give the men who come to this Men's Health Fair the tools to evaluate their own sleep to see if it's acceptable or not. I am trying to arm them with information to go to their doctor and ask the appropriate questions."

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), characterized by intermittent episodes in which the sufferer stops breathing during sleep, can affect how a person feels during the day, but it can also have other serious health consequences, according to Dr. Verma.

"Important issues on the minds of men over the age of 45 include erectile dysfunction, heart attack and stroke," he says.

And undiagnosed OSA can adversely impact risk for all of these serious conditions, Dr. Verma points out. Recent studies even suggest that too little quality sleep can affect insulin resistance, increasing the risk of diabetes.

OSA with resulting daytime sleepiness occurs in at least 4 percent of men, and 24 percent of men have the symptoms of OSA with or without daytime sleepiness, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Verma will discuss treatment options, including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) masks, surgery and oral appliances made by a dentist.

"The treatment options are not a one size fits all solution," he says. "People really have to spend time with their doctor determining their likes and dislikes and the severity of the sleep apnea. Treatment can depend on age and whether you live with someone; the person must evaluate their lifestyle to decide which option is best."

The biggest hurdle is for men to simply identify and recognize the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea so that they can go to their physician with informed questions and reach the best possible treatment option.

Dr. Verma will also discuss types of people who get sleep apnea, as well as types of sleep apnea. But of particular importance to men, he says, is the impact sleep apnea has on other areas of life.

"Often if you want to talk about stereotypical man with sleep apnea, the wife will be the one who notices the snoring," he points out. "But what many people are unaware of is that sleep apnea is a common cause of erectile dysfunction. The condition has always been seen as an annoyance, and now we're realizing that this is a serious health risk impacting many areas of life. Men with sleep apnea can have a three times increased risk of heart attack and stroke."

Preventing diabetes

When it comes to diabetes, prevention is the best medicine. Macaria Meyer, R.D., a Washington Hospital registered dietitian, will spend her portion of the Men' Health Fair panel discussion tackling the issue of how men can lower their risk of diabetes.

"Type 2 diabetes is a life long journey and it can be preventable," Meyer points out. "Pre-diabetes and insulin resistance have no symptoms. Pre-diabetes - a fasting blood sugar of 100 to 125 mg/dl - is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Studies have shown that patients with pre-diabetes typically develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years."

But a diabetes diagnosis is not inevitable. According to Meyer, weight loss of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

"Weight loss lessens insulin resistance, which occurs when the body produces insulin - the hormone that regulates the blood sugar in the body - but does not use it properly," Meyer explains.

Not surprisingly, a high calorie diet and lack of physical activity in a person's daily routine are significant contributors to the development of type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors Meyer will discuss during her portion of the panel discussion include:
* Overweight/obesity
* Ethnic background
* Genetics
* Lack of physical activity
* Blood fats (HDL-C, Triglycerides) known as cholesterol

Meyer also will talk about healthy diet and exercise as two of the main ways men can reduce the chance of developing diabetes.

"First, I always tell people to see a doctor first before embarking on any physical activity," she says. "It is important to get the heart and blood vessels checked out to make sure there are no risks for heart attacks or stroke.

"Once you've been cleared for physical activity, there are so many ways to exercise. We live in California where the climate is great. You can do any physical exercise outdoors or even indoors. I encourage people to just move and engage in any physical activity that would be fun for them."

To learn more from Dr. Nitun Verma and Macaria Meyer, M.D., as well as others, call (800) 963-7070 to register for the Men's Health Fair on Saturday, Oct. 3.

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