Do Some Women Suffer from Sleep Apnea?

When you first think of sleep apnea, your initial thoughts may be something along the lines of an overweight man snoring really, really loud and his wife wanting to knock him upside the head with a pillow.


While this is certainly a common scenario, it isn’t the only scenario because women suffer from sleep apnea, too!

The problem— since women don’t fit into the “normal profile” of a classic sleep apnea sufferer, the condition oftentimes goes undiagnosed or unreported.

In this article, we’re going to address specific issues that female sleep apnea sufferers face. If you’re a woman and think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, we encourage you to seek treatment immediately. Although many people see snoring as just a harmless nuisance, obstructive sleep apnea, if left untreated, can have serious consequences.


? Sleep Apnea: Why the Masculine Label?

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While it seems quite ridiculous now, there was a time when heart disease was considered a man’s disease. Fortunately, the scientific literature began to take a closer look at heart health in women and, of course, found out that heart disease and a variety of other cardiac-related problems affect both men and women.

In the current medical landscape, it seems obstructive sleep apnea has taken the place of heart disease as primarily a “man’s problem.” After all, when an overweight man goes to the doctor because his wife is complaining about his loud snoring, one of the first things considered is obstructive sleep apnea.

With women, this isn’t always the case.


? Why are Women Often Misdiagnosed?

Since we all know women are smarter than men and are much more complex (somewhat joking…but probably true), it makes sense that their symptoms would potentially be more widespread, thus making a sleep apnea diagnosis not so obvious.

While men are more likely to experience the “classic symptoms” of sleep apnea like snoring & gasping for air, women who are eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea display a wide variety of symptoms making a diagnosis more difficult to pin down.


? What are the Most Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Women?

As mentioned above, women tend to display a wider range of symptoms that make a sleep apnea diagnosis more difficult. Here are signs and symptoms present in women that may indicate obstructive sleep apnea is to blame:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiac or pulmonary illnesses
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue from overwork
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypertension
  • Hypochondria
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Insomnia
  • Menopausal changes
  • Obesity

Obviously these are a broad range of symptoms and just because you are experiencing a few of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have sleep apnea. Then again, if you are experiencing several of these problems, it is probably a good idea to contact a sleep apnea doctor to get evaluated.


? If I Think I Have Sleep Apnea, What is My Next Step?

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A couple of the most common reasons that women don’t seek treatment for sleep apnea are:

1: They think that sleep apnea is mostly a male issue, and thus, don’t consider it as a possible root cause of all of the problems they are experiencing.

2: They mistakenly believe the only effective treatment for sleep apnea is a bulky CPAP machine (which absolutely is not true).

In fact, if you are a woman in the South Shore Long Island area and think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, we encourage you to contact our West Babylon or Patchogue office today in order to schedule your consultation and take an at-home sleep apnea test.

We provide sleep apnea treatment in the form of a small, easy-to-use oral appliance that is cost effective, travel friendly, and much less cumbersome than traditional CPAP treatment. For more information, give us a call today!

Sources:
http://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/women-with-sleep-apnea-why-women-are-less-often-diagnosed-with-osa

http://somnomed.com/us/women-sleep-apnea/