When most people think about the typical sleep apnea patient, they picture a heavyset, middle-aged man who snores loudly. And while it’s true that this commonly is the profile of a sleep apnea patient, it does not represent a complete picture of sleep apnea sufferers. The truth is that sleep apnea patients come in all shapes, sizes, races - and genders. In fact, according to many studies, women are often under-diagnosed and under-served when it comes to the potentially dangerous sleep disorder.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, also known as OSA, is a sleep disorder characterized by constricted airflow, which can result in brief periods of little or no breathing. Sleep apnea can become a serious condition, even life threatening if left untreated.
Some of the warning signs of sleep apnea include:
· Snoring loud enough to disturb the sleep of others or yourself
· Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep
· Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
· Excessive daytime drowsiness that causes you to fall asleep while working, watching television, or even driving
Women and OSA
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, men are twice as likely to have OSA as women. However, men are diagnosed with OSA eight times more than women. This begs the question: If women are half as likely to have OSA as men, then why are they diagnosed and treated with it so much less? Some of the possible reasons:
· Stereotypes: Going back to the fact that OSA is so common in overweight men, it often doesn’t even cross a woman’s mind that she could have OSA. Even many general practitioners, when told by a female patient that they suffer from fatigue, will overlook the possibility that the patient has OSA and attribute it to something else. As a result, the female patient is never tested for OSA and subsequently never diagnosed or treated.
· Women are less likely to report snoring. In most households, it’s the woman who will be disturbed enough by their significant other’s snoring to make an issue of it. In part, this goes back to the issues of stereotypes, but it also has to do with the fact that women -- even those with OSA -- do not snore as loudly as men. Subsequently, many women may not realize that they are chronic snorers.
· Misdiagnosis/Under-diagnosis. It’s not unusual for women who do report insomnia, fatigue and even depression to a physician to be treated with prescription medications such as antidepressants or sleep aids - as opposed to having a sleep study recommended. The fact is that these same symptoms can indicate OSA, so in many cases the diagnosis is completely missed.
How can women get properly diagnosed with OSA?
The first step to ensure that women get the treatment they need and deserve for OSA is for doctors to be better informed in the prevalence of OSA in women. Likewise, women can also better recognize symptoms of OSA, including snoring, full or partial cessations of breathing during sleep, fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, and morning headaches.
OSA diagnosis and treatment for men and women at the Project Rose Sleep Program
Established by former NFL greats, Earl Campbell and Gary Baxter - in conjunction with the acclaimed American Sleep and Breathing Academy - the Project Rose Sleep Program was created to be the premier destination for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, including OSA. At Project Rose, we offer:
· State-of-the-art sleep study rooms. The key to a successful sleep study is to have the patient feel completely comfortable in the sleep study environment in order to get a restful and normal night’s sleep. At Project Rose, we’ve invested in the most comfortable and advanced sleep rooms you’ll find anywhere. Our top-of-the-line beds and mattresses were specially selected to provide the kind of comfort and rest you’d expect at a five star hotel! Our equipment was designed to provide the least obtrusive atmosphere possible, with the most accurate results.
· One-on-one counseling and follow through. Our professional sleep experts will continue to work with you to ensure you have the right sleep solution for years to come. Unlike most sleep study centers, we don’t merely test, diagnose and sell you on a solution. We’re with you every step of the way, from start to finish with the most personalized attention and follow through. If the first solution doesn’t work for you, we’ll continue to work with you to find a solution that does!
Call the pros at the Project Rose Sleep Program today!
Whether male or female, you shouldn’t allow OSA or any other sleep disorder keep you awake at night. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of OSA, make an appointment with the pros at Project Rose today. Start sleeping soundly -- with peace-of-mind for you and your loved ones! Contact us!