Sleep Apnea: Hidden Illness for Women Can Lead to Real Dangers
Jonathan Temple OxyMed, LLC
Cathy Rossi, 57, had never had never had trouble sleeping, but when she started experiencing mental blank outs on her morning drive to work, she knew something was wrong. “I was on my way to work and I was on one interstate and next thing I knew I was on another road and I had no idea where I was,” she said. After a barrage of medical tests Rossi was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a diagnosis she initially had trouble accepting and her doctors may have overlooked.
“I didn’t snore, I didn’t have any of the typical symptoms of sleep apnea,”. On TV…it’s always some big guy sawing logs.” These are common misconceptions, per Dr. Grace Pien, assistant professor at the Sleep Medicine Division of the Perelman School of Medicine. Sleep apnea was initially believed to be a disease that almost exclusively affected men, only rarely showing up in women, newer findings have refuted this idea. The consequences of this misconception are evident. “The symptoms we think about with sleep apnea, such as snoring and daytime sleepiness are those that were first described in men.” Woman may have far subtler symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, which lead to frequent misdiagnoses.” Women oftentimes are worked up for other things, for hyperthyroidism, for inactive thyroid, or for depression or other types of medical conditions. Screening for Sleep Apnea often gets overlooked.
This is particularly the case for menopausal woman. They are not only one of the most at-risk groups of women for developing sleep apnea, but they often write off the symptoms to the changes going on in their bodies.” A woman might just think…it’s normal and maybe once I get through menopause this will get better.
So, what are the signs of Sleep Apnea? During the day, a patient might just feel run down, tired, fatigued. Some patients notice that they wake themselves up feeling as if they are gasping for air or choking or that they wake up but they’re not entirely sure what woke them.
Sleep apnea is associated with long-term health problems. Studies show, sleep apnea especially if it’s severe can increase the risk for having various types of heart disease including heart attacks and even dying from a heart related condition. There also appears to be an association with stroke.
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, talk with your doctor about a sleep study. Many patients who receive treatment say they feel like a whole new person. A sleep test could literally save your life.
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