Sleep Apnea Complications — Why Treatment Is Vital

When many people think of obstructive sleep apnea — the most common type — they might peg an overweight male as the typical sufferer. 

Actually, not only does the risk of sleep apnea go up for postmenopausal women, but pregnant women and their babies face special challenges too, if they suffer with it. 

Dr. Peter Khamvongsa of the Miami Institute of Urogynecology and Minimally Invasive Surgery provides well-woman care for women of all ages, treats a wide range of women’s health problems, including sleep apnea, and offers the most advanced obstetrics care to pregnant women.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea in women are just a bit different than they are in men. While women share some symptoms with men, like snoring, gasping, interrupted sleep, daytime exhaustion, and problems focusing, women can also experience:

Physiologically, what goes on when you have sleep apnea is that the muscles supporting your soft palate stop doing their job and allow your airway to close or become quite narrow. 

Since you’re oxygen-deprived, your very smart brain wakes you up, as it sensed that you were having trouble breathing. When this happens dozens of times a night, your quality of rest is greatly compromised. 

Not enough women are being screened for sleep apnea, but recent studies have shown that 25% of women are at high risk for it, and a shocking 90% of women who have it are undiagnosed. Additionally, your risk goes up after menopause, so hormonal changes could be partially to blame. 

Dangers for women with sleep apnea

The dangers for women who suffer with sleep apnea are real, which is why it’s important to discuss this with your doctor. Women with sleep apnea are at higher risk for heart attack, another health crisis that can present quite differently in women. 

Sleep apnea and menopause

There’s a great jump in sleep apnea for women who are postmenopausal. The hormonal shifts that result from menopause are likely linked to this. What makes things even more confusing is that some symptoms that menopausal women experience are also sleep apnea indicators, like insomnia, for example. 

Sleep apnea in pregnant women

Sleep apnea also poses serious risks for pregnant women and their babies, such as:

Often the condition will ease after you give birth, but it’s important to talk to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea if you’re suffering from symptoms. If you are diagnosed, you can get treated promptly to protect your baby and regain high-quality rest.

It’s hard to know how many women have sleep apnea, but since Dr. Khamvongsa is mindful of the gender disparities associated with the condition, he never misses an opportunity to talk to you about any symptoms that might indicate sleep apnea. 

Treatments for sleep apnea

A sleep study and other tests can determine if you have sleep apnea, and there are treatments for it. Healthy habits can help, like refraining from smoking, sleeping on your side, and losing weight if necessary. 

Surgical options also exist, but the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

This device includes a headpiece that goes over your nose. It delivers a continuous flow of air that regulates your breathing and prevents the many brief awakenings throughout the night that are typical of sleep apnea. 

The treatment corrects your breathing and allows you to have a good night’s rest, which then impacts how you feel in your daily life.

Don’t delay scheduling a consultation if you suspect sleep apnea

Proper rest greatly impacts your quality of life and overall health. When you see Dr. Khamvongsa, you’ll discuss your sleep habits, and if you have any risk factors for sleep apnea or any symptoms, he pursues a diagnosis and treats you. 

Call our office at 786-220-8664 to make an appointment, or simply use our convenient online booking tool.

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