Interesting discoveries on OSA and women


A recent article in the European Respiratory Journal states obstructive sleep apnea occurs in fifty percent of females ages 20-70 years old. Twenty percent of females have moderate and six percent have severe sleep apnea.


Women with sleep apnea are less likely to be diagnosed


Women are less likely to be diagnosed because they are less likely to be tested. Part of this reason is an unfortunate predefined notion of the typical sleep apnea patient. The typical stereotype is a middle-aged, overweight or obese male. Physicians and dentists may not be thinking of the OSA possibility when the patient is female. Secondly, women often present different symptoms than the textbook ones of snoring, cessation of breath during the night, or excessive daytime sleepiness.

Interestingly, women are more likely to present with disrupted sleep, insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression or other symptoms that can point to other issues (behavioral, hormonal or mental health). Since these symptoms may not be ‘textbook’ for OSA, women are commonly misdiagnosed and are less likely to be referred for a sleep test. Another issue among women with sleep apnea is their more subtle breathing disturbances, these are more likely to have REM-related apneas, so they are at times tougher to diagnose.


Interesting differences in OSA symptoms among women


Sleep apnea in females is commonly related to age, obesity, and hypertension, but not daytime sleepiness – this could be hormonal.

Weight gain, depression, waking up gasping for breath, hypertension, restless leg syndrome and dry throat in the morning may be red flags for women that they need an evaluation. Women who are obese, pregnant, or post-menopausal have a greater risk for OSA. Lastly, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (an endocrine disorder) are more likely to have sleep apnea.


The point


Screen your female patients as thoroughly as you would your male patients, and know their symptoms may present differently. We will talk more about this during our full-day sleep seminar.

HST America can assist you through the entire dental sleep process. It begins by taking our live Success in Sleep seminar, where we discuss in detail the basics of sleep apnea including prevalence, signs and symptoms, screening techniques, treatment options, clinical aspects, and medical billing systems.

(sources: Advancedental,

Learn more about identifying sleep apnea in women and managing all your sleep apnea patients by attending an online CE seminar with HST America and Dr. Marty Lipsey, from Medical Billing for Dentists.  See our upcoming sleep seminar dates below:

HST America is dedicated to helping dentists implement a sleep program through our innovative ‘zero-dollar sleep protocol’ and concierge home sleep testing services.  To learn more about our Success in Sleep seminars, view our video below.