What Undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Women Can Cause

What Undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Women Can Cause

How does sleep apnea manifest?

Have you seen a male adult, middle-aged, rather stocky, looking fatigued, and snoring like a train? Even while that describes a lot of people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), it’s not the only possible profile. A variety of health issues can cause OSA, and it can affect anyone of any age, size, or sex.

In women, It Is Frequently Misdiagnosed

Women may experience milder manifestations of OSA-related symptoms than males, but research suggests the effects are just as bad, if not worse, for women. It is estimated that males are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea as women, although women are diagnosed with the disorder eight times as often. It has been hypothesized that this occurs because female symptoms are often overlooked since they deviate from the conventional masculine profile.

The following discussion will examine the underdiagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in women and the factors that contribute to this problem.

How does OSA manifest itself differently in females?

Several variables, common to both sexes, contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat relax and descend during sleep, closing the upper airway. Because of this, breathing stops, and the brain sends a signal to the body to gradually awaken so that the airway may be reopened. OSA sufferers may not be aware of these brief awakenings, but they occur often during the night, sometimes as often as every hour. This causes them to not only lose sleep but also to have trouble progressing into deeper stages of sleep, leading to a sluggish morning.

Women with OSA are less likely to report symptoms such as daytime tiredness or difficulty concentrating than males are. Women, for whatever reason, are less likely to report feeling “tired” than men are; but, when the situation is severe, both sexes tend to use the same adjectives, “fatigued” and “exhausted.” Fatigue is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but doctors often overlook it in women since they don’t meet the conventional profile for OSA (overweight, masculine, loud snoring, etc.).

Why do so few doctors check for OSA while examining a female patient?

As with the rest of us, doctors might be influenced by their own stereotypes about what a patient should look like when they have this ailment. When a guy matches the description and complains of associated symptoms, a sleep study is commonly performed, but when a woman complains of the same symptoms, they may be ignored or attributed to something else.

Several Illustrations Could Be:

  • Symptoms that women do report to their physicians are often shared with other illnesses. Menopause, depression, sleeplessness, and other problems are commonly blamed for unpleasant symptoms including headache, weariness, loss of energy, and moodiness.
  • Women are more likely to say they snore less than males or not at all when asked about this issue. Furthermore, men tend to be less aware of their snoring spouses than women. A common reason males give for doing a sleep study is that “my wife feels I snore too much,” whereas women are less likely to say the same thing.
  • The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is often lower in women than in males, indicating that apnea occurrences are mild yet prevalent. This suggests that they (or their partners) are experiencing fewer breathing disruptions each hour. Click here to read more about sleeping apnea.

Missing something doesn’t imply it has no significance.

While women may experience milder OSA symptoms than males, research suggests the consequences are just as serious, if not worse. The usual autonomic responses that regulate things like blood pressure, heart rate, and sweating are diminished in patients with OSA, according to a 2013 UCLA research, and this is especially true for women. Multiple tests were performed on men and women diagnosed with OSA, and the results were alarming.

These studies reveal that sleep apnea has a more severe impact on women than on males, at least in terms of heart rate. Heart disease symptoms and other negative outcomes from inadequate adaptation to normal physical demands may be more common in women as a result of this. Possible brain and organ damage can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. You can also read about Why You Need to Invest in a Lumin Cleaner for Your CPAP Equipment by visiting http://breastcancerchallenges.com/why-you-need-to-invest-in-a-lumin-cleaner-for-your-cpap-equipment/

The Pitfalls to Avoid

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are commonly ignored, so paying attention to them is crucial if you want to avoid developing serious health problems in the future. Some of the symptoms you could experience could be due to sleep apnea:

Even after a full night’s sleep, you may still feel exhausted because: 

  • Your breathing stops and begins during the night; 
  • Your body keeps waking up from deep sleep (noticed by a partner, perhaps)
  • You have low energy or daytime fatigue; 
  • You get frequent morning headaches; 
  • You’ve been told you have high blood pressure or fibromyalgia; 
  • You’ve been told you snore; 
  • You wake up frequently during the night (to use the washroom, for example – under normal conditions, you shouldn’t need to get up much during the night);

The good news is that OSA can be efficiently treated with CPAP, despite the fact that it can be incapacitating and carries risks of more hazardous repercussions for general health. Don’t be shy about reaching out to us for help if you think you might have OSA.

Factors that Put Women at Risk

If you have any of the risk factors for sleep apnea, even if you don’t currently have OSA or experience OSA symptoms, it’s important to keep a close eye on your sleep and get treatment right away if you develop any of the condition’s tell-tale signs. Health problems caused by OSA might be made worse by other circumstances.

Watch out for these risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea: 

  • Being overweight; women who are obese between the ages of 50 and 70 have a 31% higher risk of developing OSA.
  • Getting to be a specific age, has a 14% increased risk of OSA among women between the ages of 55 and 70.
  • The risk of having OSA increases during pregnancy, and it can have serious consequences if it goes untreated.
  • Sleep apnea can be brought on by menopause, and it’s strongly linked to hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. The risk of getting OSA is as high as 70% in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

A relationship between OSA and chronic congestion exists for all kinds of reasons.

You should schedule an appointment for an evaluation if you have any suspicions that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.