Are you a woman with obstructive sleep apnea? Whether you are aware of your symptoms or not, this common sleep disorder can be more than just an annoyance for you and your partner. In fact, obstructive sleep apnea in Fort Worth can lead to serious health conditions, including cardiac arrest in women. Why is that? Let us explain why women are more susceptible and how you can treat it.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and this occurs when the soft tissues of your mouth and throat relax and essentially, collapse. This causes your airway to become blocked. When you stop breathing at night for 10 seconds or more, your brain is triggered. Attempting to send an alert to your body that it needs to breathe, you will wake up and oftentimes, be gasping for air. This can happen once or hundreds of times each night.
This continual disruption of sleep can make it difficult to function the next day, resulting in many individuals experiencing:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Morning headaches
- Sore or dry throat
- An inability to focus
Why Are Women More at Risk for Cardiac Arrest Than Men?
According to researchers who studied the cardiac function in men and women with OSA and who snore, it was determined that OSA can cause the heart to experience dysfunction with its left and right ventricles.
Studying more than 4,800 participants, all who received a cardiac MRI, researchers concluded that both men and women with OSA and who snore had a larger left ventricular mass. This means, their heart had to work harder because of the enlarged walls surrounding the heart’s pumping chamber.
However, when analyzing those who snore compared to those who don’t but still have OSA, they discovered women who self-reported that they snore may have an earlier impairment. This can cause their OSA to go undiagnosed and put them at greater risk for cardiac arrest.
How Can it Be Treated?
If you snore or suspect you might have obstructive sleep apnea, it’s imperative that you speak to your doctor. A sleep study can provide a definitive diagnosis, and if it is determined that you do have sleep apnea, there are several ways it can be treated. These include:
- Losing weight. If you are considered obese or overweight, establish an exercise routine and begin eating a well-balanced diet.
- Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. This keeps your airway open throughout the night by pushing a steady flow of oxygen into your mouth and throat.
- Opting for oral appliance therapy. These compact devices are worn like a mouthguard and reposition your jaw to keep your airway open while you sleep.
- Pursuing corrective surgery. If your sleep apnea is due to a physical blockage (large tonsils or adenoids), you can have these removed.
Don’t continue to put your overall health at greater risk. Talk to your doctor today about ways you can stop snoring in Fort Worth and start getting better sleep.
About the Author
Dr. Mitch Conditt, DDS, graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1985 and has been practicing general and restorative dentistry ever since. Noticing many of his patients having problems with TMJ, he also discovered many were suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Conditt pursued advanced training on ways to help people with TMJ and sleep apnea, and he now works with his patients to help them overcome sleep and pain issues. To learn more about Dr. Conditt, visit our website or call (817) 527-8500.