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The Link Between Menopause and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

April 21, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmogell @ 3:42 pm
sleepless middle-aged woman

Menopause comes with a long list of potential symptoms because a woman’s body is going through some dramatic hormonal changes. While some consequences of menopause, such as irregular menstruation, hot flashes, and mood changes, are well-known, others do not get the attention they deserve. Most people do not know that menopause can worsen or even lead to obstructive sleep apnea in Boca Raton. Let’s talk about the connection between these two conditions.

Menopause as a Risk Factor for Sleep Apnea

Estrogen and progesterone play a number of important roles in a woman’s body, one of which is to help her maintain muscle tone in her throat. Without an adequate supply of these hormones to keep her airway toned and free of obstructions, she is at a greater risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Weight gain is common during menopause, and a woman’s body fat may even be redistributed. Therefore, she may gain more fat around her neck, and a large neck circumference is another significant risk factor for sleep apnea.

Hot Flashes and Sleep Apnea

Up to 80 percent of middle-age women experience hot flashes and night sweats. Recent research indicates that these issues may lead to a significantly increased risk of sleep apnea. The relationship between severe hot flashes and OSA may not be one of cause and effect. Rather, both conditions may be due to underlying issues. However, doctors may still find it beneficial to consider severe menopause symptoms as a possible indicator of sleep apnea.

The same study that connected hot flashes to sleep apnea also found that many of the women who were deemed to be at risk for OSA had still not been diagnosed with it two years after the initial research. That isn’t necessarily because they were free of OSA—rather, it may be because women often experience different OSA symptoms than men, which makes it difficult for doctors to form an accurate diagnosis. For example, women do not always snore loudly, and loud snoring is one of the main indicators that doctors use to recognize OSA.

Thus, it is important for menopausal women who believe they have sleep apnea to be aware of other indicators of the condition, such as restless nights, insomnia, frequent nighttime urination, and excessive daytime drowsiness. They should tell their doctor about such symptoms and perhaps even directly request a sleep test.

Are you going through menopause and finding it difficult to get the rest you need? Talk to you doctor about the possibility that you may have obstructive sleep apnea. After proper testing and diagnosis, you may soon receive the treatment you need in order to sleep better each night.

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a dental sleep medicine expert who has helped men and women of all ages to find relief from obstructive sleep apnea. If you suspect that menopause has caused OSA for you or is making an existing sleep disorder worse, he would be happy to help you. Contact our Boca Raton team 561-353-5252 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mogell. 

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