A woman with untreated sleep apnea abruptly stops sleeping multiple times throughout the night. It’s critical to diagnose and treat sleep apnea sooner, rather than later, because the condition can lead to serious medical problems, including cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, many more women than men remain undiagnosed and untreated because of differences in their symptoms.
The typical symptoms of sleep apnea include persistent, loud snoring, pauses in breathing, and abnormal daytime sleepiness. However, women often experience different symptoms, which can make it more difficult to recognize sleep apnea. Women with sleep apnea often complain of fatigue, insomnia, and unusual changes in their moods, such as depression. They may also experience frequent morning headaches, lethargy, and even restless legs syndrome. Other possible indicators may include unexplained weight gain, high blood pressure, and frequent dry throat in the morning.
Since women are more prone to experiencing symptoms other than the typical symptoms of sleep apnea, they may be less likely to be diagnosed as compared to men with the disorder. Women are commonly misdiagnosed with other conditions, such as depression, anemia, cardiac disease, diabetes, insomnia, and fibromyalgia. A doctor may misdiagnose fatigue due to a demanding schedule or changes associated with menopause. Some doctors may even dismiss a woman’s symptoms as mere hypochondria. Women who experience unusual symptoms that may indicate sleep apnea should see a qualified sleep disorder specialist for a proper diagnosis.
Some of the risks of complications from sleep apnea can differ between the genders. Men who are obese and have the disorder are significantly more likely to develop hypertension than women with the same conditions. On the other hand, women are more likely than men to have poor autonomic responses, such as a lower heart rate. This can increase the risk of heart disease.
Zeeba Sleep Center is staffed by board-certified sleep physicians and has been fully accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. We take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Las Vegas-area residents are encouraged to learn more about us by calling (702) 242-1562.