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Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men vs. Women

by | Sep 9, 2022

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that repeatedly stops and starts your breathing while asleep. Sleep interruptions can occur seldom or hundreds of times during the night. Over 100 million adults worldwide suffer from sleep apnea.

While the symptoms do differ between men and women, the disorder is associated with the same serious health consequences for both genders. Treatment for sleep apnea can ease the symptoms as well as help prevent heart problems and other complications. 

Types of Sleep Apnea

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is the most common type that is caused by the relaxation of the throat muscles and the narrowing of the airway during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA). This occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing while asleep.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome (CSAS). This is when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. 

Understanding the different types of sleep apnea can help a person identify the cause of their symptoms and enable them to seek the right medical care. Sleep apnea may affect a person’s quality of life and is a risk factor for other potential illnesses. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is known to primarily be linked to men, but does pose serious health risks for women, especially those who live with undiagnosed conditions. Sleep apnea in women can cause an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, and possibly lead to other health problems such as a stroke. Most people are unaware that they have an issue unless someone alerts them to their loud snoring or gasping for air.   

Hormonal, physiological, and anatomical differences play an important role in the distinctions in sleep apnea symptoms between men and women. Experts explained that women tend to show subtler breathing issues and fewer apnea events at night.

Men also tend to have a longer, floppy oropharynx (the part of the throat that allows food, fluid, and air to pass through) and a bigger posterior tongue compared to women, causing sleep apnea symptoms to be more noticeable.

In addition, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea than women usually because of how women describe their symptoms. For example, not all women reported that they snore due to social stigma. For that reason, sleep apnea in women is commonly misdiagnosed as depression, hypertension, and other disorders.

Commonly Reported Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Women

  • Fatigue 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

Commonly Reported Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men

  • Loud snoring
  • Wakes up gasping or choking for air
  • Restless sleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Decreased focus

If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnea, you can fill out this sleep assessment to help SleepWell Louisiana determine your level of risk. Since sleep apnea is more prevalent among males, it is important to keep in mind that females are susceptible to sleep disorders too, and treatment varies per individual. The right treatment can allow a person to get a good night’s rest and may reduce the risk of health problems.    

A CPAP machine is the most common and popular treatment for sleep apnea, but more than half of sleep apnea patients treated with CPAP do not use the device as directed. Additionally, with the recent CPAP and BiPAP mask recall announced by the FDA, you may want to consider switching to other CPAP alternatives, if you’re already using a CPAP machine, to avoid potential health problems.

Oral appliance therapy is an option that we offer at SleepWell Louisiana and is increasing in popularity for patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike a CPAP machine, oral appliance devices are comfortable, quiet, and easy to transport. We understand that no one size fits all. Our oral appliance devices will be custom-fitted just for you and your needs to ensure maximum comfort.

Since sleep apnea can be a potentially deadly sleep disorder, it is vital that the treatment you and your sleep specialist decide on is effective for you. At SleepWell Louisiana, patients are set up with sleep apnea at-home tests where the results are first reviewed by a Board-Certified Physician for your eligibility for oral appliance therapy before our Sleep Care Coordinator can better decide on which treatment is more suitable for you.      

About a third of people do not get enough sleep. This can lead to major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity. Scheduling sleep testing with a qualified physician at SleepWell Louisiana will help you get the answer you need and receive the appropriate treatment. If sleep disorders are left untreated, they can negatively affect your physical and emotional health.

See also: What Happens if Sleep Apnea is Left Untreated?

To take control of your health, take our 1-minute sleep assessment and then schedule an appointment with SleepWell Louisiana. Let us provide you with the effective sleep relief you have been longing for. Regular healthy sleep leads to a healthy future.