Humans need seven to eight hours of sleep, and it is not only a remedy for those dark circles, but for many other health problems as well. Deep sleep benefits the body as a whole and helps repair damaged cells and the immune system.
“While some people lack sleep due to their schedules or work, there are also those who suffer from what are called sleep disorders. It is alarming to note that not many people take this seriously and are therefore also prone to other health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. One of those common sleep disorders is sleep apnea, said Dr. Vishal Sehgal, medical director of Portea Medical.
Generally, there are three types of sleep apnea that one should be aware of:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the most common form of the problem in which the throat muscles tend to relax.
Central sleep apnea: This is a condition in which the brain signals to the muscles that control breathing become irregular.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is a complicated and emergent treatment situation in which the person is affected with both Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.
“Although obstructive sleep apnea affects both sexes, it is generally believed that men are more likely to suffer from it. The 8: 1 ratio of men to women is probably the cause behind this. However, there is a need for greater awareness of this problem, as it poses several serious health risks. It can cause heart ailments and even deaths. Problems like feeling fatigued even after waking up in the morning and snoring are the most common manifestations of sleep apnea, ”he told indianexpress.com.
He added that in 2017, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine conducted a study that found that men and women have different experiences of sleep apnea. “Although the prevalence of the problem is more widespread among men, it is found to be more serious among women. The differences in sleep apnea symptoms between men and women are due to physiological differences that influence bodily processes and the impact of various treatments on them, ”he added.
Here are the differences:
Symptoms of sleep apnea in women
The symptoms of sleep apnea are not so straightforward, which can cause them to go undiagnosed. Unlike men, women may not snore loud enough to be noticed. However, they can show visible symptoms such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. Lack of adequate sleep causes discomfort in functions during the day. Other common symptoms among women are morning headaches and a bad mood. Obesity and extra weight can also cause sleep apnea, as sleep apnea can narrow the airways and make it difficult to breathe during sleep. Another woman’s specific risk of sleep apnea is hormonal changes caused by menopause that can alter breathing and airways. Therefore, women should consult a specialist if they feel exhausted or experience headaches regularly.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Men
For men, the most visible and audible symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. According to the available data, approximately 34 million Indians suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and the prevalence rate is 14% in men and 12% in women. Male snoring is usually louder and more annoying to others compared to female snoring. That is also the reason why men or their partners often actively seek a solution for snoring and are eventually diagnosed with OSA.
However, the symptoms of OSA among women, such as drowsiness, fatigue, and weak memory, are often mistaken for the causes of other problems and go undiagnosed. This misdiagnosis or ignorance can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension in women. Sometimes it can also cause more risks, such as hypothyroidism, cognitive decline, dementia, and depression.
Treatment of OSA
Since there are clear differences in symptoms between men and women, treatment results may also differ. However, so far not enough studies have been performed to identify such variations in response to treatment. It has been observed that the amount of airway pressure required for men and women may differ due to physiological differences in the respiratory tract. Men need more airway pressure than women to keep their breathing active throughout the night.
Timely identification of AOS is extremely important. Lack of adequate sleep can be detrimental to the body’s growth and recovery from illness, as well as its proper functioning. This is equally true for both genders. If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is imperative to see a doctor and treat your sleep apnea.