Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects millions of men (3-15% of them) worldwide. Men are also 2 to 3 times more likely to have sleep apnea than women in many patient populations. Sleep apnea is characterized by repeated interruptions of breathing during sleep, which can lead to a number of serious health complications.
In this blog post, we will talk about common sleep apnea symptoms in men, along with the causes, and various treatment options available to them.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms In Men:
One of the most common sleep apnea symptoms in men is loud snoring. This is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep, which results in turbulent airflow. This can cause the soft tissue in the back of the throat to vibrate, resulting in loud snoring.
Another common sleep apnea symptom in men is daytime fatigue and sleepiness. This is caused by the repeated interruptions of breathing during sleep, which can lead to poor sleep quality and a lack of restorative sleep. As a result, men with sleep apnea may feel tired and groggy during the day, even after getting a full night’s sleep.
Other sleep apnea symptoms include frequent awakening at night to urinate, morning headaches, awakening with a dry mouth and difficulty concentrating during the day. Men with sleep apnea may also experience a loss of interest in sex.
Effects of Sleep Apnea in Men
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the complications that sleep apnea causes. Men with sleep apnea are at an increased risk of developing hypertension, and the relationship between the two conditions is bidirectional. The frequent interruptions in breathing during sleep can cause a rise in blood pressure, and untreated hypertension can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. It is crucial for men with sleep apnea to monitor their blood pressure regularly and work closely with healthcare providers to manage both conditions effectively.
Moreover, sleep apnea has been strongly associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke. The intermittent oxygen deprivation and subsequent oxygen surges that occur during sleep apnea episodes can strain the cardiovascular system, leading to inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and the formation of blood clots. Men with sleep apnea should be aware of these risks and prioritize comprehensive cardiovascular assessments to detect any potential issues early on.
Another significant concern for men with sleep apnea is the increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea disrupts the body’s normal metabolic processes, leading to insulin resistance and impaired glucose regulation. Men with sleep apnea should closely monitor their blood sugar levels and adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and weight management to mitigate the risk of diabetes.
Sleep apnea has also been associated with a decline in testosterone levels in men, leading to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and reduced fertility. The disruption of sleep patterns and the physiological stress caused by sleep apnea can impact hormone production and regulation. It is essential for men experiencing these symptoms to consult with healthcare professionals who can assess hormone levels and provide appropriate treatment options.
Even though sleep apnea can affect anyone, men are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from it. Here are other factors that can increase your risk of suffering from sleep apnea:
- Excess weight: Obesity greatly increases your risk of being affected by sleep apnea. Fat deposits around your neck can block your breathing.
- Having a neck circumference greater than 17 inches: People with thicker necks tend to have narrower airways. This is why a lot of athletes who play sports such as basketball, American football or wrestling have sleep apnea, because they have a lot of muscle around the neck which adds to the pressure on the airways.
- Being older: Sleep apnea occurs significantly more in older men than in younger men.
- Family history: Having a first degree relative with sleep apnea might increase your risk fourfold.
- Smoking: Men who smoke are 3 times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea compared to those who have never smoked. Smoking increases the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airways.
- Nasal congestion: If you have trouble breathing through your nose due to allergies or anatomical problems, you are more likely to have sleep apnea.
- Medical conditions such as hormonal and cardiovascular disorders
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, and sleeping on their side can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms in men. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the pressure on the airway, and avoiding alcohol and sedatives can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Although these lifestyle changes can make a difference, they are often not enough to completely treat sleep apnea alone.
CPAP therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine delivers a constant stream of air through a mask that is worn over the nose or mouth during sleep. The air pressure is set to a level that is just enough to keep the airway open.
CPAP therapy can be effective in reducing the number of apneas and improving the quality of sleep.
Dental appliances can also be used to treat sleep apnea. These appliances, which can be worn in the mouth during sleep, reposition the jaw and tongue to help keep the airway open. They can be effective for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea but may not work for everyone.
Surgery is another option for treating sleep apnea. Surgery can be used to remove excess tissue from the airway or to reposition the jaw and tongue, or the tongue alone, to help keep the airway open.
The best treatment for you will depend on the severity of your sleep apnea, your overall health, and your personal preferences.
Men with sleep apnea are at an increased risk for a number of serious health complications, including hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, among others.
If you experience any sleep apnea symptoms above, it is very important you talk to your sleep healthcare provider. You can also book an online appointment with Ognomy to talk to a sleep medicine specialist who can test, diagnose and treat your sleep apnea all from the comfort of your own home.