Sleep Apnea Risk Factors in Women

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors in Women
If you picture the typical person with sleep apnea, who initially comes to your mind?

It's likely that your first thought was a man, because for some reason sleep apnea is primarily thought of as a "men's disorder" - but studies have actually shown that almost one in two sleep apnea patients is a woman!

So, why are women so under-diagnosed for this disorder? And more importantly, how often are they actually being treated?

Historically, sleep apnea was considered an issue that rarely occurred in women and primarily occurred in men. Research focused on male subjects rather than equally male and female. Therefore, a list of symptoms that were tailored to men were produced.

Another side of it is that properly diagnosing women is just more challenging. The symptoms that tend to present themselves in women can often be associated with more than one disorder, leading to misdiagnosis.
These symptoms include:

➡️ Fatigue 😴
➡️ Headaches 🤕
➡️ Daytime sleepiness 🥱
➡️ Insomnia 😱
➡️ Frequent awakening during the night 🤫
➡️ Swollen feet 🦶

Some of the biggest risk factors of sleep apnea in women include being post-menopausal (3x as likely to have sleep apnea), pregnancy and obesity.

So as a woman, how can you diagnose and/or treat your sleep apnea?

First, ask your partner to observe your symptoms or use a sleep app in order to monitor them yourself. Once you have an understanding of the symptoms that you are displaying while you sleep, talk to your doctor or an Airway Dentist (like myself).

An Airway Dentist would do further screening and then your family doctor would refer you to a sleep study. Don't worry about the Darth Vader CPAP mask - there are so many other options an Airway Dentist can offer!

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