Women over 50 who snore could suffer from fatal sleeping disorder, study warns

Snoring may be annoying for the person you share a bed with, but it can actually be a sign for something a lot more serious, especially if you’re a woman over the age of 50.

Experts have warned that snoring could mean you are at risk of sleep apnoea, which in some cases can be fatal.

Sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder which causes breathing to repeatedly stop and re-start, causing serious health complications for some.

Medics in Israel found a link between women over the age of 50 and sleep apnoea, as part of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

Hundreds of women were divided into two age groups, pre-menopausal (aged 20 to 40) and post-menopausal (aged 55 and over).

The study found that 15 percent of older women are at a significant risk of sleep apnoea, compared to only 3.5 percent of women in the younger age group.

They also found that 11 percent of the women who snore are at a higher risk for sleep apnoea, in contrast to only one percent of women who do not snore.

Professor Ilana Eli, researcher for the study said: "The lack of early diagnosis is particularly noticeable in one of the target demographic groups: women over the age of 50, who suffer from an increase in the incidence of sleep-disordered breathing due to hormonal changes that occur during menopause.

“We wanted to examine and characterise the phenomenon in this group in order to raise a red flag when necessary.”

Participants had to fill out questionnaires about their sleep habits, such as how they felt when they woke up in the morning, if they grind their teeth at night, if they rise feeling tired or if they experience headaches.

The experts also took into account the weight of the participants, whether or not they had children and their marital status.

Medics said that those who have sleep apnoea can be at risk of fatal conditions such as strokes.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea mainly happen while you sleep, they include:

  • breathing stopping and starting

  • making gasping, snorting or choking noises

  • waking up a lot

  • loud snoring

During the day, you may also experience:

  • feel very tired

  • find it hard to concentrate

  • have mood swings

  • have a headache when you wake up

The most common form of the sleeping disorder is obstructive sleep apnoea, when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airways when you're asleep.

Depending on the severity of the case, sometimes sleep apnoea may need to be treated with surgery.

The medics said that the women who had sleep apnoea, also suffered with other symptoms such as:

  • fatigue

  • headaches

  • muscle soreness when waking up

  • insomnia

  • high BMI

  • teeth grinding

Many women may not know they suffer from sleep apnoea, but the above signs can be good indicators.

Medics have urged doctors to take note of symptoms that might indicate sleep apnoea.

"If you have identified a high-risk patient, refer her to a sleep diagnosis specialist.

"This way, we can diagnose women who are ‘under the radar’ due to lack of awareness and under-reporting and provide them with appropriate and life-saving care," they said.

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