Do You Need a Sleep Apnea Test? Signs a Woman Needs One
Over the years, people have come to believe that sleep apnea is an issue for just middle-aged, obese men. In fact, studies up until a few years ago suggested that men were 9 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women.
However, the narrative has changed and more accurate research in the past few years suggests that to be far from the truth. Although, generally, men may be 2 to 3 times more like to develop this disorder, women are still at risk. As women grow older and hit menopause, the ratio decreases to a large extent.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is more likely to go undiagnosed in women, since doctors generally don’t consider a woman may be suffering from sleep apnea until most other medical conditions are ruled out. This is why it is crucial to understand the symptoms that women may be suffering from.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Women
Most of the OSA symptoms you hear about apply to both the genders. Loud and constant snoring, sleepiness and lack of attention during the day, concentration issues, chocking or gasping during sleep could all potentially signal towards sleep apnea.
But women can have other symptoms that are not generally considered to be linked to sleep apnea.
As mentioned above, a woman going through menopause is at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea. The reason behind this is that as woman hit menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone start decreasing. These hormones seem to protect women sleep cycles and breathing, hence increasing the risk of sleeping disorders as they decrease.
Though pregnancy doesn’t directly cause sleep apnea, it may, along with other symptoms, increase the risk of developing it. When a woman is pregnant, her body goes through a lot of changes. Weight gain, disruptive sleep patterns, and changes to the anatomy can all cause breathing issues that may result in sleep apnea.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. Although obesity could be a factor in both of these medical issues, studies have shown that this syndrome can increase the risk of this sleep apnea up to twice as much. This is regardless of whether the woman is overweight or not.
A few other lesser know factors that may increase your chances of sleep apnea include fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, diabetes and high blood pressure.
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you have the sleep disorder, but they are worth investigating if you cannot figure out another cause behind it.
What Should I Do if I Feel I Have OSA?
If you are suffering from OSA, it is important to not stress over it, since that would only add to your symptoms. Sleep apnea is reversible if diagnosed at the right time.
If you are concerned about your situation, the first step you should take is to bring this up to your doctor. You may talk to your doctor about taking a home sleep test to determine your condition. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest appropriate treatment options.