Why Women with Sleep Apnea are Often Misdiagnosed
A common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring paired with something else such as shortness of breath or excessive daytime sleepiness. Although men and women usually experience similar symptoms when it comes to OSA situations, women tend to describe their symptoms differently leading to misdiagnosis. Untreated sleep apnea in women can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and serious health concerns such as strokes.
A 2013 UCLA study found that men are twice as likely to be diagnosed compared to females. Men generally note symptoms like grasping for air, snorting, and snoring. While women report depression, anxiety, and lack of energy. Therefore, many women get diagnosed with depression, hypertension, hypochondria, or other conditions. Angie Randazzo, a Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist at St. Lukes Sleep Medicine and Research Center says, “it is commonly known within the sleep field that women with OSA present differently than men, they often don’t have the stereotypical body type and don’t always say they are sleepy. Many will say they are fatigued, leading clinicians to think they have insomnia versus OSA.”
Here are other sleep apnea symptoms seen in women to keep in mind:
1. Any type of snoring (loud or faint)
2. Fatigue/excessive daytime sleepiness/unrefreshing sleep
4. Morning headaches
5. High blood pressure
6. Mood disturbances
7. More subtle breathing problems at night than men
It is important to remember that OSA affects all people regardless of gender, size, or age. The best way to know if you are at risk is to consult with a sleep physician or dental sleep medicine dentist. Take this quiz to see your possible level of risk.
If you snore chronically, visit Snoring Isn’t Sexy to learn more and schedule a consultation with a sleep apnea dentist that can help you stop snoring!