Women under diagnosed for sleep disorder

By:  Rachael Witter

Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans, but the number of men that get diagnosed outnumber women 8 to 1.

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person actually stops breathing while they're sleeping. Sue Pocock says it definitely affected her life.  Women are the ones that are often overlooked. Some physicians have the notion that the average sleep apnea patient is an overweight, middle–aged man.  So, the diagnosis of it may be pushed aside.

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by a simple sleep study.  Electrodes are attached to your head, and several straps around your body to measure brain activity and breathing patterns. Though this may be intimidating and uncomfortable to some, one patient says the results and treatment were life–changing. Sue now sleeps a little easier thanks to a CPAP, Or continuous positive airway pressure.

“It's a little bulky but not bad.  There's just a little machine that sits on the side table and it has a very flexible tube that hooks up to a mask that kind of looks like an elephant,”  says Pocock. 

“Essentially what you'll do is put a mask on when you go to sleep and that will blow a very gentle column of air that will prop open the airways,” says Dr. Doug Fiedler, Sleep Specialist at St. Elizabeth's Regional Medical Center. 

Sleep apnea may be linked to more health problems than you might think. “Sleep apnea can be related to diabetes, it can be related to heart disease, it can be related to high blood pressure, it can be related to strokes,” says Dr. Fiedler.

Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, long pauses in breathing and sleepiness during the day. If you have these symptoms and the thought of a sleep study makes you anxious many sleep centers now have a “hotel feel” and amenities to make you feel more at home.

For more information about St. E's Sleep Center, log onto their website and click on services:


Categories: Health