At younger ages, men are much more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women. However, at menopause women begin to develop sleep apnea at rates comparable to men. Some studies suggest nearly half of all women will suffer sleep apnea after menopause. However, both they and their doctors may not catch sleep apnea, so that it leads to serious problems as they age.According to a recent study published by the American Geriatrics Society, sleep apnea causes women to lose their ability to live and function independently.
Twice as Likely to Have Declining Function
To determine the impact of sleep apnea on women’s overall ability to function, more than 300 women with an average age of 82 were assessed for their ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) as well as their general mobility. They were also given polysomnograms. Their IADLs and mobility were then assessed again five years later.
When women were shown to have sleep apnea at the first assessment, they were twice as likely to have experienced declining function (more difficulty performing IADLs) than those who didn’t have sleep apnea. For difficulties related to incidental tasks, sleep apnea made women three times more likely to suffer difficulties.
Sleep apnea seemed to have no impact on mobility.
Women Need to Be Tested for Sleep Apnea
This study highlights only one of the many impacts sleep apnea has on women. We are coming to realize that sleep apnea’s dangers for women have been underestimated, and that we have been too complacent in considering sleep apnea to be a man’s problem. Because men are more likely to sleep through a woman’s snoring, there is likely to be fewer reports of this problem among women (incidentally, one of the world’s loudest snorers is a woman). It’s important for women to be aware of other symptoms related to sleep apnea (like your afternoon soda), and talk to their doctors about it.
Women also need to be aware of the wide range of effective sleep apnea treatments available. If you are looking for an alternative to CPAP, we can help. Please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a San Diego sleep dentist at Strober Dental today.