Snoring and sleep apnoea in women is now commonplace – but ignored

Snoring and sleep apnoea have generally been considered to be conditions affecting men and it is readily accepted that most men snore.  However it is not seen as a very ladylike thing for a woman to do and this may be the main reason why so few women have sought help.

However, what is not recognised is that women tend to show different symptoms to men that are often overlooked when seeking help, and as a consequence, their condition remains undiagnosed, or even misdiagnosed. It has become clear that hormones and airway anatomy play a prominent role in women who snore.

Studies from the early 1970s and 1980s suggested that the male to female ratio for sleep apnoea was around 60:1 but more recent research has recognised that snoring and sleep apnoea in women is not as rare as was once thought. More recent studies and better diagnosis have reported the male to female ratio for sleep apnoea is really around 2:1.

Even so, the greater prevalence of snoring and sleep apnoea amongst men still tends to promote an unintentional selection bias for their referral for any type of treatment. Most GP’s depend on those who snore to self refer – or come forward to seek help – and men are much more likely to do this. In fact, they are often prompted to do so by their partners.

It is believed that almost half of the women who snore never report their symptoms to their GP, often due to embarrassment, although they are happy to insist that their partner does so and they prove to be highly pro-active in seeking help for any other illnesses or health problems.

One of the few major studies to examine this problem amongst women found that sleep apnoea was undiagnosed in approximately 90% of women who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnoea.

Recent changes in attitude have shown many more women seeking help. This may perhaps be due to a better awareness of the social factors that contribute to the problem – smoking, drinking, and weight gain being the main ones involved.

Previously snoring has always had a tendency to start to occur in men in middle age, when the soft palate has become more relaxed and airway ‘vibration’ or snoring results. This used to happen even later in women but lifestyle changes have brought it forward as a problem for members of both sexes.

Many more women are now seeking help. A wide range of anti-snoring products is available but only some of them are NHS Approved, mainly due to their known success rates. These include Anti-snoring mouthpieces (Mandibular Advancement Devices), which are commonly called MAD’s or splints.

Simple to acquire and to use, they come in a choice of styles and at different but affordable prices – a small price to pay for curing what can turn into a highly dangerous problem for the future.
John Redfern worked for 15 years at leading London Advertising agencies writing on many international products and markets during that time, before moving into a consultancy role, where he has gained long experience of writing on important matters of personal health.

John has had in-depth involvement in a broad spectrum of subjects in this area, covering all possible age groups.

Through his work as a consultant to Sleeppro, John has acquired an in-depth knowledge of snoring and sleep apnoea, and the many serious health problems with which they are so closely associated.
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