Unexplainable sleep disturbances plague many Americans, much to the benefit of the myriad mattress companies that benefit from collective restlessness. While some of these individuals may simply be anxious, others may lose sleep as a result of a serious illness lurking in their body.

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Courtesy of Josh Felise/Unsplash

Don’t Snooze on Symptoms

Seniors with nighttime breathing issues, such as sleep apnea or snoring, usually have high blood sugar. A recent study showed these individuals are almost twice as likely as sound sleepers to develop type-2 diabetes, according to Reuters Health.

Researchers took data from 6,000 adults for up to 10 years, and the results suggest that blood sugar levels should be monitored in older patients with sleeping disorders. “Recent evidence suggests that diabetes patients have a higher prevalence of sleep disturbances than the general population,” lead author Linn Beate Strand, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, told Reuters. “However, less is known about whether symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later, especially in older adults.”

Since such sleep-breathing related disorders become more common with age, it’s important for older adults to monitor their blood sugar levels. Older adults may also be able to detect diabetes by monitoring other bodily functions.

Other Warning Signs

There are a number of symptoms that people are aware of, including blurry vision, difficulty clotting/issues with healing, and excessive thirst. There are, however, symptoms of which people may be unaware, such as issues regarding a loss of hearing, itchy skin, or unsightly, dark patches on the skin, according to Bel Marra Health.

Though these symptoms may be unrelated, the sudden appearance of any of these signs may be an early warning that diabetes is the root cause. Any of these symptoms that appear in conjunction with weight gain may be especially worrisome and may be a warning sign that requires a doctor visit.

Researchers at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy and Medicine have identified other early warning signs. A study at Temple found that early warning signs of type-2 diabetes can develop after only a few days of overeating.

The researchers had subjects consume 6,000 calories per day and after only 2-3 days, the volunteers had already developed insulin resistance – a precursor to type-2 diabetes.

“Surprisingly, insulin resistance was not associated with free fatty acid, inflammatory cytokines and endoplasmic reticulum stress in adipose tissue. The oxidative stress then caused a change in a protein that transports glucose (GLUT4),” said Salim Merali, a professor of pharmaceutical science at Temple. “This is the first demonstration in humans of a direct mechanistic link between excessive nutrient intake and the development of insulin resistance. We may have found the initial events that are responsible for the insulin resistance.”

Given all these warning signs, older adults should be cognizant of the potential risks associated with certain behavior and any changes in bodily function or appearance.