Causes of Sleep Apnea in Women

Sleep Apnea in WomenSleep apnea and snoring aren’t just male problems. Many women suffer from problem snoring and the dangers of sleep apnea.  Unfortunately, many cases of sleep apnea in women go undiagnosed. Each year, the Snoring Center consults diagnoses and treats thousands of women suffering from sleep apnea. We utilize a host of different treatments, most of them minimally invasive, to treat problem snoring.

Sleep apnea in women was once thought to be a rare condition. It isn’t. Recent studies indicate that the ratio of male/female sleep apnea sufferers is closer to 2-to-1. Unfortunately, it is possible that as many as 90 percent of women who suffer from sleep apnea go undiagnosed. Why is this?

That question has yet to be answered, but it is possible that the stigma and embarrassment associated with snoring may be a hindrance. In a recent study sleep study, nearly half of female subjects did not report sleep apnea events (choking or restless sleep) to their general practitioner, whereas all the males in the study did.  Additionally, women don’t fit the snoring stereotype.  Although women of all ages can snore, many women do so later in life with an increased prevalence after menopause around 60-65 years of age. Comparatively, half of all middle-aged men snore.  Furthermore, sleep apnea may be harder to identify in women, especially younger women since the volume of their snoring may be less intense.

Typical symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Choking during sleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Tension
  • Depression

Sleep apnea is caused by a relaxation of the airway muscles during sleep.  When awake, throat muscles keep the airway stiff.  When you sleep, the muscles relax and narrow the throat. With sleep apnea, this airway can become partially or fully blocked. This occurs because:

  • Your throat muscles  and the tongue may relax more than normal
  • Your tongue and tonsils are large in comparison to your windpipe.
  • You are overweight. Fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This narrows the inside of the windpipe, making it harder to keep open.
  • The shape of the bony structure in your head and neck may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.

The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat sleep apnea. The Snoring Center utilizes a variety of effective treatments to combat sleep apnea. Most of these treatments are minimally invasive and can be performed by our trained physicians usually the same day of the initial consultation.  In fact, the entire process of diagnosis, consultation and treatment can take place in less than one hour.

Whether you are a man or a woman and you suffer from sleep apnea, this is a problem that will not go away without action. If you are tired of the grogginess, headaches, irritability or even the embarrassment your sleep apnea is causing, stop by The Snoring Center Today.

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