Is Sleep Apnea a “Man’s Disease”?
Think Sleep Apnea only affect men? Not the case! In fact, new findings show for every two or three men, one woman is affected by Sleep Apnea. What’s really alarming though, is an estimated 90% of women with Sleep Apnea remain undiagnosed. Since women typically experience different symptoms than men, reaching a proper diagnosis is often be more difficult. This is especially so if sleep habits are affected by schedule, illness/allergies or even just a poor bedtime routine (like reading or watching TV in bed).
Why Are Women Less Often Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea?
Commonly, Sleep Apnea in women can be mistaken for Depression, Hyperthyroidism, Anemia, or Diabetes. Women are frequently misdiagnosed due to their subtle symptoms. Unlike men, women are less likely to snore. Here are the most common symptoms women experience:
• Morning headaches
• Racing heartbeat
• Day time sleepiness (despite a “good” night’s rest)
• Morning dry mouth
• Waking up gasping / coughing
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea in Women
We’ve already eliminated one cliche misconception, lets examine another. You don’t have to be overweight to have Sleep Apnea. OSA can be linked to body weight, but its not valid in all cases. Sleep Apnea in women becomes more common around Menopause. But there are other influences as well, some in which are hereditary:
• The use of alcohol and/or sleeping pills which relax the muscles in your throat.
• Smoking (which makes you 3 times more likely to develop OSA).
• Nasal congestion caused by allergies or narrow passages will cause difficulty breathing during sleep.
• Inherited narrow airway passages
• Pregnancy (which can contribute to different sleeping positions).
More Research on Sleep Apnea in Women
Now that we know Sleep Apnea is not a “Man’s Disease,” new research is shedding light on the different effects associated between men and women. A recent study at UCLA School of Nursing was conducted on Sleep Apnea in women showed participants to have a higher degree of brain damage with untreated OSA. The damage was primarily in the area of the brain which involves decision-making and mood regulation. Thus, women with sleep conditions are shown to have more symptoms of depression and anxiety than men.
If you think you are showing signs of Sleep Apnea, it’s best to get it checked out. Now sleep study tests can be taken home, ask your doctor for more options. Or, if you’ve recently been diagnosed you can find great tips by checking out Women New to CPAP Therapy.