Women and Sleep Apnea

beautiful girl sleeps in the bedroom

There has been an age-old bias that only middle-aged, overweight men are diagnosed with sleep apnea, but this has changed over the past few years. Today, there are a lot of women who have had to deal with a sleep apnea diagnosis as well. It’s no secret that coming to terms with this type of diagnosis is not easy to deal with (much like any big change in life). Here are 5 myths about sleep apnea in women that research has proven to not be true.

1. Women Don’t Snore: actually, women make up a third of the percentage of all adults who snore. Snoring is seen in 30% of adults over the age of 30. And yes, that is mostly men, but that doesn’t exclude women from being susceptible to snoring too. 

2. Only overweight women are at risk for OSA: While research has established a strong link between sleep apnea and obesity, there are many other factors that contribute to OSA. One example has to do with the abnormal positioning of the facial skeleton (more specifically, the jaw) known as Retrognathia. People with this condition are more likely to develop sleep apnea, so weight is not always a factor in a sleep apnea diagnosis.

3. Only older women get sleep apnea: Research studies estimate that sleep apnea may affect up to 8% of middle aged women, and after menopause, the prevalence of OSA in women is equal to that of men.  This doesn’t, however, exclude younger women from getting sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can strike people at any age, even children!

4. Risks are not as extreme for women with OSA than for men: While both genders are equally at risk for the condition, the symptoms for women are often a lot less noticeable, and therefore go undiagnosed much too often. This makes the condition a lot more serious (and even deadly) for women when it is diagnosed.

5. CPAP masks are designed for men making it harder for women to adjust to CPAP: Up until recently, the options for sleep apnea masks were very limited, and most often catered to men. This has changed dramatically in the last few years. Companies such as Phillips Repironics and Resmed now manufacture CPAP masks that come in all shapes and sizes that fit women perfectly. 

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