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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Menopause and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Mar 14, 2019 11:38:00 AM

As women enter menopause, a decrease in the production of certain hormones causes many physical and emotional changes.  Along with hot flashes and mood fluctuations, breathing issues, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), can be more severe.  Learn about the connection between menopause, sleep and OSA—and what you can do about it.

What is OSA? 

OSA is a condition in which breathing is temporarily paused and interrupted during sleep. It can present itself as snoring or gasping for breath, and is generally triggered by the throat muscles relaxing too much during the night. This causes the airway to close, leading to the gasping sensation.  More than 18 million adults have sleep apnea, and while it is more common in men, the odds of experiencing OSA increase in women during and after menopause. There’s also an increased risk if you have family members with sleep apnea, if you’re overweight, or if you smoke or drink.  

Why does menopause make it worse?

During menopause, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease in women’s bodies. These hormones act as stimulants and play a role in keeping airways open by maintaining muscle tone in the throat. As they decrease, the chances of obstructed breathing rise.  What’s more, hormonal changes can lead to weight gain and a redistribution of body fat, sending more fat to the throat area , which can cause disrupted breathing.

How can it be treated? 

Speak with your doctor about your symptoms. In some cases, a low dose of hormone therapy might be prescribed.  For mild cases of OSA, your physician may suggest lifestyle changes, like losing weight or cutting back on pre-bedtime alcoholic beverages. For moderate or severe cases of sleep apnea, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine when you sleep could be the answer. This device moves air pressure through a mask that you wear over your nose and helps keep your upper airways open which helps you stay asleep. 

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Topics: women, OSA, menopause

Will Treating Your Sleep Apnea Improve Your Love Life?

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Feb 14, 2019 11:00:00 AM

Treating obstructive sleep apnea will address a world of corresponding health issues. It will make you more energized and focused during the day, and less prone to exhaustion, depression, and morning headaches.

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Topics: OSA, love, partner

What Is Sleep Apnea? - A Refresher Course, Part 5

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 30, 2018 2:25:00 PM

Epidemiology

The costs of untreated sleep apnea reach further than just health issues. It is estimated that in the U.S., the average untreated sleep apnea patient's annual health care costs $1,336 more than an individual without sleep apnea.

This may cause $3.4 billion/year in additional medical costs. Whether medical cost savings occur with treatment of sleep apnea remains to be determined.

The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study estimated in 1993 that roughly one in every 15 Americans was affected by at least moderate sleep apnea.

It also estimated that in middle-age as many as nine percent of women and 24 percent of men were affected, undiagnosed and untreated.

History

The clinical picture of this condition has long been recognized as a character trait, without an understanding of the disease process. The term "Pickwickian syndrome" that is sometimes used for the syndrome was coined by the famous early 20th century physician William Osler, who must have been a reader of Charles Dickens. The description of Joe, "the fat boy" in Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers, is an accurate clinical picture of an adult with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.[78]

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Topics: life with sleep apnea, OSA

What Is Sleep Apnea? - A Refresher Course, Part 4

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 29, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Weight loss

Excess body weight is thought to be an important cause of sleep apnea. In weight loss studies of obese and overweight individuals, those who lose weight show reduced apnea frequencies and improved Apnoea–Hypopnoea Index (AHI) compared to controls.

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Topics: life with sleep apnea, OSA

What Is Sleep Apnea? - A Refresher Course, Part 3

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 28, 2018 3:31:00 PM

Central sleep apnea


PSG system showing a central apnea.
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Topics: life with sleep apnea, OSA

What Is Sleep Apnea? - A Refresher Course, Part 2

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 27, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Diagnosis

Sleep apnea may be diagnosed by the evaluation of symptoms, risk factors and observation, (e.g., excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue) but the gold standard for diagnosis is a formal sleep study (polysomnography, or sometimes a reduced-channels home-based test).

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Topics: life with sleep apnea, OSA

What Is Sleep Apnea? - A Refresher Course, Part 1

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 26, 2018 3:12:28 PM

Sleep apnea, also spelled sleep apnoea, is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep.  Each pause can last for a few seconds to a few minutes and they happen many times a night. In the most common form, this follows loud snoring

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Topics: life with sleep apnea, OSA

Treating OSA in Kids Improves Behavior and Quality of Life.

Posted by Guest blogger: Denise Mann, Web MD on Oct 11, 2018 7:30:00 PM

Kids with obstructive sleep apnea are often tired by day, have trouble paying attention, and have other behavioral problems all because they are not getting enough quality sleep at night. A new study may help turn that around -- without surgery.

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Topics: Pediatrics, OSA in children, life with sleep apnea, OSA

Snoring, Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Jul 2, 2018 12:34:00 PM

  A new pregnancy is exciting and brings with it the classic discussions about morning sickness, food cravings, and having that "special glow."

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Topics: CPAP, pregnancy, depression, OSA, baby, high blood pressure

Sleep Apnea and Preeclampsia

Posted by Kayla LeFevre on Jun 28, 2018 2:56:16 PM

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Preeclampsia

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Topics: pregnancy, OSA, baby, high blood pressure

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