Obstructive sleep apnea varies from person to person to be sure. However, there are some generalized yet notable differences in this all-too-common condition.
In recent years, as the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been studied more thoroughly, doctors and researchers have found a troubling trend. On the whole, less women get a sleep apnea diagnosis than men.
This problem is starting to be addressed as awareness grows. Yet there are nevertheless a number of reasons why women are tested and treated for sleep apnea less often than their male counterparts.
Reasons Why Less Women Are Diagnosed Than Men
Women tend to have less noticeable symptoms.
One of the biggest signs of obstructive sleep apnea is a loud and roaring snore with noticeable gasps and pauses in breath.
But this unmistakable red flag is far more common in men than it is in women. Instead of loud snoring, women tend to show more subtle signs, such as wheezing, light but struggled breathing, and other quiet disturbances during their sleep.
Symptoms in women can easily be attributed to something else.
When women do show signs of obstructive sleep apnea, unfortunately these symptoms can easily be linked with another condition.
Some of the most common signs of OSA in women are mood disturbances, headaches, lack of energy, and depression.
So it’s not uncommon for sleep apnea to simply go unchecked. In fact, a recent study found that women who have had a sleep apnea diagnosis are often prescribed medications first. Doctors prescribe antidepressants rather than referring a sleep specialist.
Women are more likely to see a general practitioner.
Because women’s sleep symptoms are so generic, they will more likely go to their family doctor for help first. Because general practitioners do not specifically focus on sleep apnea, it makes the risk of a misdiagnosis much greater.
Men are a less observant when it comes to sleep.
Having a partner who is in tune to your sleeping habits and patterns can be instrumental when it comes to diagnosing sleep apnea. This is because your partner is often the first person to identify that there’s a problem with your sleep.
But a recent study has found that men are less likely to notice these disturbances than women, which can lead to foregoing diagnosis and treatment.
Women tend to “power through it.”
Women may certainly notice when they don’t feel at their best. This might be due to daytime fatigue, headaches in the morning, or other sleep apnea symptoms. However, they are also more likely to take an aspirin, drink a cup of coffee, and power through their day to accomplish everything.
However, when it comes to a condition like obstructive sleep apnea, the symptoms and side effects never go away for the long term. And they actually get worse over time.
So if you’ve noticed a few subtle symptoms that could signal a problem with your sleep, it may be time to see a sleep specialist and to ask for testing for obstructive sleep apnea.
Almost as prevalent in women as it is in men, obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition to which women in particular should pay attention.
Do you or a loved one have questions about sleep apnea? Don’t hesitate to contact us.
We’re Here to Help