Sleep Apnea – Increased risk for Young Women with Asthma

Sleep Apnea – Increased risk for Young Women with Asthma

There is twice the risk to have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in young women suffer with asthma compared to those that don’t have asthma. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) first reported this study in the August edition of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The research team found that around 21 percent of young adult women that have asthma also routinely snored. This snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. There has been focus on how males typically have sleep apnea, but this study points out a section of women that also are at a higher risk for developing this sleep disorder.

"For a long time physicians believed that men were more likely than women to get obstructive sleep apnea, but we've shown that's not necessarily true," said Maninder Kalra, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine. "Our study reinforces the need for awareness and early detection of the disease in women who are at increased risk for breathing disorders related to sleep."

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, because a person is often unaware that they are having difficulty breathing while they sleep. The airways including the nose, mouth, and throat narrow while sleeping, this causes breathing to stop for short time periods. Short cessation of breathing can cause blood-oxygen levels to decrease.

The symptoms of sleep apnea can include impaired memory, mood swings, restless sleep, and extraordinary day-time fatigue. Other side effects and health problems that have been linked to sleep apnea, including high blood pressure as well as impaired heart function.

"Physicians need to know the risk factors that predispose a patient to obstructive sleep apnea," Kalra adds, "so we can get those patients in for a conclusive test--such as a sleep study--and start treatment sooner."

Other groups of women that had an increased risk for sleep apnea include cigarette smokers. These women had a higher risk for snoring.

To diagnosis obstructive sleep apnea, a person would complete a sleep study that would measure for the frequency and severity of the interrupted breathing. Treatments include surgery for removing tissue that blocks the airways. Another treatment is to use breathing equipment called a CPAP which continually blows air in through a mask to keep the airway passages open.

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