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Hot Flashes May Increase Risk for Sleep Apnea and other Heart Issues

It seems that the war on sleep disorders such as sleep apnea is much larger than anyone ever anticipated. New studies are constantly showing us that this extremely dangerous disorder can impact our lives and bodies in ways we never realized.

The most recent study hints at a connection between certain menopausal women and sleep apnea. This link is extremely important as this sleep disorder greatly increases the risk of developing severe health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and stroke.

Thankfully, learning about these types of connections puts us in a better position to continue fighting the war on sleep disorders. Developing a deeper understanding about sleep apnea and how it impacts different aspects of our life allows us to catch the warning signs of the disorder. This ultimately leads to the diagnosis of more individuals who can then get the treatment they need.

Sleep apnea responds exceedingly well to treatment, often reversing the effects of the disorder. With so many treatment options available, there’s no reason to delay the diagnosis and treatment of such a dangerous condition. Untreated sleep disorders are not only dangerous to your own health, but the health of those around you as well.

Studying Sleep Apnea and Menopause

Scientists and Doctors alike recognize that certain physical traits increase the likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. However, the sleeping disorder can actually affect anyone. This is why so many people go undiagnosed. It’s more likely to see OSA symptoms in individuals who are older, have more body fat, and have higher blood pressure. Yet, many people who suffer from OSA don’t have any of these traits. In fact, some argue that these traits themselves are a result of prolonged, undiagnosed OSA.

In this particular study, around 1,700 middle-aged women were evaluated. Around 25 percent of whom were at a higher risk of having the sleep disorder due to the traits mentioned above.  Menopausal women frequently report difficulty sleeping for one reason or another. For many of these women, that reason involves hot flashes of varying degrees.

The study shows that women who reported having severe hot flashes were about twice as likely to have OSA compared to those women only reporting either no hot flashes or mild hot flashes. UPI reports:

According to JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the society, “Sleep disruption is a common complaint at menopause. It is important to recognize the high number of undiagnosed sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea.”

“Early morning headaches or excessive daytime sleepiness should raise concern for obstructive sleep apnea, and signal a need for sleep apnea testing.” Pinkerton suggested.

While the study did find an association between the sleeping disorder and hot flashes, little is known about the actual connection. Additional information and studies will help us understand the relationship more clearly.

Diagnosing and Treating OSA

One of the reasons that OSA and other sleeping disorders are so difficult to diagnose is the commonality of their symptoms. Symptoms often include snoring, daytime fatigue, difficulty with concentration and memory, waking up with headaches or a sore throat, and much more. The symptoms can vary from individual to individual as well. Most often, the spouse or partner notices symptoms rather than the individual suffering from the disorder.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. Sleeping disorders are extremely harmful to your health. They affect every system in your body, including your brain and heart. It’s important to get a diagnosis as early as possible to begin treatment.

Diagnosing sleep disorders often requires an overnight stay in a sleep center. This is currently the best method of recording all the necessary data to reach a clear diagnosis. Data is collected about your breathing, pulse, body movements, and much more. A specialist then analyzes this information before presenting it to your health care provider.

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your condition. Sometimes, lifestyle changes including diet and exercise are enough to cure you of the sleep disorder. Other times, additional intervention is needed to ensure your body gets the rest it needs. The most common treatment option for OSA is the use of a CPAP machine. This machine delivers continuous positive airway pressure throughout the night to help keep your airway open so you can breathe.

There are also a number of other treatment options if you decide that CPAP therapy isn’t right for you.

Other OSA Treatment Options

Certain dental professionals throughout the US are trained in the design and construction of oral appliances. These appliances help support the soft tissues that collapse and cause airway obstruction. Many qualifying patients prefer to go this route over a bulky CPAP machine. The dental appliances are effective and affordable.

Call Mark Levy DDS at (614) 777-7350 to learn more about the use of dental appliances in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.