While men generally tend to suffer from sleep apnea more than women, women are also susceptible to sleep apnea, especially if they're overweight or snorers. Pregnant women are also at risk because the hormones make the tissues swell, which stresses the airway, as well as peri and post-menopausal women, according to Dr. Rich Gillespie with Gillespie Dentistry in Vancover, Washington. Hormone imbalances can reduce the estrogen and progesterone and create a weight gain that contributes to sleep apnea.
The treatment is the same for both men and women and the goal is to maintain the airway open while asleep. To that end, the options include a CPAP device or an oral appliance, Dr. Gillespie says. He also points out that sleep apnea doesn't only affect those who are overweight, as he most recently had a petite, young patient whose tissue make-up made it difficult for her airway to remain fully open at night.
Dr. Rich Gillespie is a dentist and leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, a featured network of Sequence Media Group. Sleep Better TV provides online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content. For more information on Dr. Gillespie, click here.