Posted by on Jan 30, 2020 in Sleep Apnea | 0 comments

Were you aware of the fact that women who have sleep apnea are more likely to be incorrectly diagnosed than men? Unfortunately, it’s true. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which the sleeper’s breathing starts and stops throughout the night. There are three main kinds of sleep apnea: 

  • Obstructive
    • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common kind, occurring when muscles in the throat relax. When this happens, there isn’t enough air getting into the body with each breath, so, to make sure the sleeper doesn’t die, their brain will rouse them from sleep just briefly enough to open up the airways again. If this happens all night, which it does, the subject wakes up feeling tired because they never fully slept.
  • Central
    • Central sleep apnea occurs when the sleeper’s brain doesn’t properly communicate with their breathing muscles. This is less common than obstructive sleep apnea, but it still causes the sleeper to startle awake in the middle of the night. However, they usually wake up feeling short of breath and may notice waking up or having difficulty falling asleep more than someone with obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Complex
    • This syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, is a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Even though it’s a common condition, sleep apnea can be serious if it goes untreated. When it comes to treatment, sometimes a doctor will simply prescribe a patient with exercise or other lifestyle changes. Smoking and sleeping on one’s back are both things that can be changed to help with sleep apnea. When that isn’t enough, they may give the patient a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP, for short. CPAP machines help people sleep by putting pressurized air into the airways so they stay open enough to breathe. 

Often, older people are more in danger of experiencing sleep apnea. Other high-risk demographics include people with a family history of sleep apnea, smokers, people who are heavier, and, for central sleep apnea, people who have had strokes in the past. Men are more likely to have sleep apnea than women, but, as I previously stated, women are not always correctly diagnosed when they do have sleep apnea. 

According to this website, women are often misdiagnosed because they show different symptoms than men do. While the main symptoms for men are gasping while sleeping, choking while sleeping, lack of focus, and excess snoring, women who struggle with sleep apnea are often found to have poorer memories, depression, morning headaches, and night sweats. They may also put on weight. Because the symptoms can differ between men and women, more women with sleep apnea are treated later than they should be, which is potentially dangerous.

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