Are Men or Women More Affected by Sleep Apnea?

Close your eyes and imagine someone with sleep apnea. Who are they, and what do they look like? If your image is like most, you saw a man, maybe overweight, maybe in his 50s. While this assumption is not representative of everyone, it does depict the majority of sleep apnea sufferers. The remaining question is, “Why do men suffer from sleep apnea more than women?”

Characteristics Associated With Sleep Apnea

Several factors contribute to sleep apnea. A few examples of contributing factors include:

  • Weight
  • Alcohol consumption (especially before bed)
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Family history of snoring or sleep apnea
  • Age
  • Small lower Jaw

The Data

In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that sleep-disordered breathing occurred in 24% of young-middle-aged men and 9% of women and 70% of older men and 56% of older women. While there isn’t a singular consensus on why men, factors like obesity, upper airway anatomy, breathing control, hormones, and aging are agreed to be to blame.

Alternate Explanations

One explanation for why sleep apnea is different in men versus women is that women experience it during specific sleep cycles. In contrast, men’s sleep apnea tends to be sleep posture dependent.Another theory is that women may be less likely to report their symptoms because of the perceived stigma that snoring is masculine. If this is the case, the statistics may be artificially skewed, and men and women have an equal likelihood of suffering from sleep apnea.

Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea Symptoms

If you snore or suffer from other sleep apnea symptoms, report them to your doctor. It’s estimated that roughly 80 percent of people with sleep apnea are currently undiagnosed, and the best way to get relief is by being treated. Scheduling a consultation with Dr. Wallace can offer you the tools, resources, and expertise needed to get relief. Call our office at (843) 410-0345 or visit our contact form to schedule a consultation.

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