Wednesday 13 April 2016

Marla Ahlgrimm | Sleep Apnea Often Overlooked in Women

Marla Ahlgrimm
Sleep apnea is a potentially fatal condition that is usually associated with men. However, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, a 2013 study of women aged 20- to 70-years old found that up to 50% of women in this age group had some form of sleep apnea. Overweight women and those with high blood pressure were most at-risk.


Marla Ahlgrimm explains that sleep apnea is essentially the body’s inability to breathe properly during slumber. While most people relate heavy snoring with sleep apnea, there are a number of other symptoms that many women ignore, blaming lifestyle instead. These may include fatigue, insomnia, headache, mood swings, and weight gain. The failure to consider sleep apnea is what makes it so dangerous to women.


The primary cause of sleep apnea is obesity. However, Marla Ahlgrimm reports that other potential risk factors include Hispanic or African-American heritage, overuse of sleep aids, large overbite, smoking and alcohol use, oversized tonsils, chronic sinusitis, menopause, and large neck circumference.


Symptoms of sleep apnea can have a profound effect on a woman’s daily life. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that dry mouth and sore throat from snoring can make it difficult to speak, while chronic fatigue can lead to difficulty concentrating and/or irritability. Untreated, sleep apnea may be a trigger for more serious concerns including type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and sometimes even death.


Sleep apnea management often warrants the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, a CPAP is used to restore regular nighttime breathing patterns. CPAP therapy is extremely effective, however, surgical treatment may be an option for those with nasal septum or jaw structure problems.


A sleep study is the most common way for doctors to diagnose sleep apnea, says Marla Ahlgrimm. During a sleep study, equipment monitors the patient’s brain activity, heart, lungs, and breathing patterns.


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