Women are often not well-represented in clinical trials, which leads to differences in how treatments are administered. And, most studies might not even offer results separated by gender. It can be problematic, especially for sleep apnea. Women often get misdiagnosed because there isn’t enough information about how the disorder presents for them. Diseases and health conditions present themselves differently in men and women.
Where does the misdiagnosis begin?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep breathing disorder that occurs when a person experiences one or more pauses in breathing, as well as shallow breathing during sleep. One in five Americans suffer from mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but women are still misdiagnosed. Instead of a sleep apnea diagnosis, many women find themselves being diagnosed with depression, hypertension or hypochondria, among other things and this is a big issue. As a result, women often don’t get the treatment they actually need.
Men often describe their symptoms as snoring, waking up gasping for air or even snorting. However, women describe their symptoms as feeling fatigued, anxious or even depressed. Some women might also experience snoring and shortness of breath, but symptoms in women are often less obvious.
Sleep apnea is still a serious disorder
Despite the differences in symptoms, sleep apnea is still has serious health consequences for men and women. However, undiagnosed women are even more at risk for complications. Other than wanting to nap during an important meeting, sleep apnea in women can cause irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, which increases your chances of having a stroke.
If sleep apnea goes undiagnosed, you might also notice you have trouble concentrating and you’re still tired after a full night’s sleep. And because symptoms of sleep apnea are common, many people either write them off as just being moody or overworked.
Do you think you might have sleep apnea? The first step is to note your symptoms and visit Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia. He can refer you to a sleep specialist for proper diagnosis and then provide you with oral appliance therapy for relief.