Sleep Apnea Often Undiagnosed in Women

sleep apnea women

According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 18 million American adults live with sleep apnea. However, the actual number of sufferers could be higher because women with sleep apnea are often misdiagnosed.

Women with sleep apnea are often misdiagnosed with these common conditions:

Different Symptoms, Same Condition

Typical sleep apnea symptoms include loud, irregular snoring. They may also wake up gasping for air. Women with sleep apnea also report fatigue, anxiety, depression, and morning headaches.  A lack of sleep affects the area of the brain responsible for regulating mood and decision-making, and women appear to be more prone to these effects. This often leads to a misdiagnoses of depression or anxiety in women who should be further evaluated for sleep disorders.

Another roadblock to diagnosing women with sleep apnea, is the doctor’s preconceived notion of what the typical sleep apnea patient looks like – a middle-aged, overweight male.

Women of all ages can suffer from sleep apnea, but there are certain factors that can raise your risk.

Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea in Women

Until a sleep study is done, an official diagnosis of sleep apnea cannot be made.  During a sleep study, your breathing and sleep patterns are recorded and analyzed for signs of sleep apnea, which occurs whenever your breathing stops. The number of times this happens in a night determines if you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea.

Treatment for sleep apnea is the same for women as it is for men. The most common treatment is the use of a CPAP machine during sleep. The CPAP machine helps to gently force air through the airways allowing for an uninterrupted sleep.

If you have concerns about the quality of sleep you are getting, please reach out to the experts at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. You may need to set up a sleep study. Dial 8154777350.

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