Why Women with Sleep Apnea are Often Misdiagnosed

A common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring paired with something else. These other signs are shortness of breath or excessive daytime sleepiness. Men and women usually experience similar symptoms when it comes to OSA situations. However, women with sleep apnea often describe their symptoms differently. This often leads to a misdiagnosis. Untreated sleep apnea in women leads to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and serious health concerns such as strokes.

A 2013 UCLA study found that men are twice as likely to be diagnosed compared to females. Men generally note symptoms like gasping for air, snorting and snoring. While women report depression, anxiety, and lack of energy. Therefore, many women get diagnosed with depression, hypertension, hypochondria, or other conditions. Angie Randazzo, a Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist at St. Lukes Sleep Medicine and Research Center says, “it is commonly known within the sleep field that women with OSA present differently than men, they often don’t have the stereotypical body type and don’t always say they are sleepy. Many will say they are fatigued, leading clinicians to think they have insomnia versus OSA.”

Signs of sleep apnea in women:

1. Any type of snoring (loud or faint)

2. Fatigue/excessive daytime sleepiness/unrefreshing sleep

4. Morning headaches

5. High blood pressure

6. Mood disturbances

7. More subtle breathing problems at night than men

It is important to remember that OSA affects all people regardless of gender, size, or age. The best way to know if you are at risk is to consult with a sleep physician or dental sleep medicine dentist. Take this quiz to see your possible level of risk.

If you snore chronically, you can schedule a consultation with a sleep apnea dentist that can help you stop snoring!


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