Women and Sleep Apnea

A Common Cause of Fatigue

Snoring is often thought of as a male problem, and the subject of jokes in cartoons and sitcoms. In reality, snoring and sleep apnea (periodic cessation of breathing) are no laughing matter. They can be serious medical problems which increase the risk of fatigue, daytime sleepiness, decreased work performance, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease for men and women. Since snoring and sleep apnea are perceived as distinctly unfeminine, many women are embarrassed to discuss them with their physician. In today’s world, women expect themselves to perform at 110% of maximum at work and at home. They often don’t allow themselves enough time in their busy schedule to sleep (6-9 hours per night). If when they do sleep, they have snoring and/or sleep apnea, the combination is a double dose of trouble causing chronic tiredness and poor quality of life. Although physicians often test women for other causes of fatigue such as anemia or thyroid disease, sleep problems are frequently not considered.

Don’t let fatigue and daytime sleepiness decrease your quality of life. With proper evaluation and care, you should awake refreshed and ready for the challenges of your day. Find out if you have sleep apnea or sleep breathing problems and see what you can accomplish when you get a good night’s sleep.

What Are Sleep Breathing Problems?

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) can range from simple snoring to periodic cessation of breathing (apnea) which can be associated with a precipitous fall in the amount of oxygen in the blood. Women who snore and have sleep arousal report excessive daytime sleepiness and waking feeling “unrested”. Morning headaches, difficulty losing weight, and mood swings are also more common in this group. Sleep apnea is more frequent in older, heavier women, and in women with a short, thick neck and certain facial shapes. However, even children can suffer with this problem.

Possible Symptoms of Sleep Breathing Problems:

  • You have been told you snore.
  • You have been told that you stop breathing during your sleep (apnea).
  • During the day you are tired, sleepy or irritable.
  • You are tired when you wake up or have trouble waking up.
  • You have fallen asleep while driving.
  • You have high blood pressure.

How Can I Know for Sure?

If you think you may have a sleep breathing problem, Contact us to schedule an appointment

Dr. Bryan will review your history and symptoms and perform a thorough examination of your mouth, throat ,and nose to determine if you have nasal obstruction, enlarged tonsils, a “floppy” soft palate and/or a crowded pharynx.

We now have available free of charge to our patients a small personal pulse oximeter to use overnight to monitor your blood oxygen levels. The monitor fits on your wrist like a watch and a small pad fits on one of your fingers. There is no pain or discomfort. If your digital readout shows significant falls in blood oxygen levels, you need a formal sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea and/or another sleep disorder. We will help you with the pre-certification that your insurance company will probably require for the formal sleep study.

What Treatments Are Available?

If you do have significant sleep apnea, there are several effective treatments. A mask providing pressure can keep your throat open allowing you to breathe much better and keeping your blood oxygen normal. For people who can’t tolerate sleeping with a mask, there are surgeries that provide an internal “lift” for your throat to remove the excess, flabby tissue and, in some cases, enlarged tonsils which are blocking the throat during sleep. Losing weight often improves nighttime breathing problems. Treatment of respiratory allergies or mechanical nasal obstruction can sometimes improve breathing and help snoring by decreasing swelling and opening up the nasal and throat passages.

Children can also suffer with sleep apnea and sleep breathing problems. Snoring could be a symptom of sleep problems, read Children and Sleep Apnea: Don’t ignore your child’s snoring for more information.


Latest Posts