Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea in Men
- Physical Structure
Men are genetically engineered differently from women. Physically, the make-up and structure of the two genders are completely unique. The size, shape, and functioning of the male body is very different than that of the female. The physical structure of the male body causes men to be at higher risk of developing Sleep Apnea.
- Neck: Men, especially in their middle ages are found more susceptible to the development of Sleep Apnea. Middle-aged men with large neck sizes were the most likely group to develop the disorder. Having a large neck does not necessarily mean being overweight, males naturally have a larger neck circumference than women. Males who have necks larger than 17 inches around are at a heightened risk for experiencing Obstructive Sleep Apnea episodes during the night. Having a neck this size can cause the patient to experience a significant fate deposit around the airway; this deposit creates extra pressure on the collapsible tissue and causes airway obstruction.
- Receding Chin: If you have a thick neck accompanied with a receding chin, you are also at risk for developing the sleeping disorder. A receding chin reduces the amount of space that the tongue is allowed in the front of the mouth. When the tongue is not able to rest comfortably in the front of the mouth, the giant muscle has a higher chance of sliding into the back of the throat and compromising the upper airway.
- Abnormalities: Men with structural abnormalities and craniofacial deformities face a high chance of developing Sleep Apnea and other respiratory disorders. Structural abnormalities can affect the size and shape of the airway. Young males born with these unfortunate abnormalities are at risk for developing an imbalanced or poorly structured respiratory system.
- Testosterone Production
The majority of testosterone production in the body occurs while a male is asleep. Sleeping disorders like Sleep Apnea that cause frequent arousals during the night often have a detrimental effect on the sufferer’s quality of sleep. Males with Sleep Apnea experience a decreased level of testosterone production in the body. If testosterone production in male Sleep Apnea patients decreases, the sexual drive of those men can also decrease. In addition to regulating sexual energy and passion, the hormone testosterone can affect the body’s ability to maintain proper muscle mass and bone strength. Men with Sleep Apnea may be at a higher risk of sexual dysfunction or impotence, arthritis, and overall vitality reduction as a result of lower testosterone production.
- Job-Related Stress
Men often experience a lot of stress and responsibility surrounding their jobs. It has become the fashionable stereotype that the man of the house be the strong, healthy, breadwinner who can fight dragons and slay spiders. All of the excess stress that accompanies the male’s societal role can cause high levels of Cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. Heightened Cortisol levels make a patient more susceptible to developing Sleep Apnea as well as experiencing complications from the disorder.
- Heart Problems
Men aged 40 to 70, who suffer from severe Sleep Apnea, are more likely to develop heart problems as a result of their sleeping disorder. Older men with Sleep Apnea are more likely to experience high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart disease, and the need for surgery than men without Sleep Apnea. The strenuous symptoms of Sleep Apnea contribute to numerous problems with the heart. During an apnea episode, the amount of oxygen available for use by the heart is drastically diminished and blood pressure rises. When the blood pressure level in the body becomes high, Cortisol is excreted. Cortisol causes nervous system reactions and results in the patient feeling alert in the middle of the night, a definite problem for Sleep Apnea patients.
Statistics Concerning Men with Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Apnea occurs in one of four men.
- Men are two to three times more likely to develop Sleep Apnea than women.
- According to Mark Stibich, Ph.D., Men aged 40 to 70 who suffer from severe Sleep Apnea, more than thirty episodes an hour, have an increased risk of developing heart problems by 68%.
- 4-9% of all men in their middle ages have been diagnosed with one of the three common forms of Sleep Apnea.
- 24% of men in their middle ages suffer from Sleep Apnea but have not ever received medical diagnosis or treatment.
- The Sleep Heart Health Study evaluated the increased risk of death in over 6,400 people. The test showed that males between the ages of 40-70 have a 46% higher risk of death than healthy older men without Sleep apnea.
- 70% of men over 65 experience Sleep Apnea with an AHI of at least 10.
Common Misdiagnosis of Sleep Apnea in Men
Scientific studies have proven that men are less likely to report problems and symptoms that may be related to Sleep Apnea. Men are more likely to brush off feelings of fatigue or irritability as opposed to seeking medical help. Men, however, are more likely to report the classic symptoms of Sleep Apnea to their doctors. Male patients most often complain of snoring, choking, or falling asleep during the day.
Because so many men who suffer from Sleep Apnea symptoms fail to report the symptoms, the disorder often goes undiagnosed or gets misdiagnosed. Sleep Apnea is commonly misdiagnosed as behavioral or mental disorders like Depression. In some cases, doctor’s fail to see all of the symptoms of Sleep Apnea and identify the disorder as some other illness based on a few common symptoms like high blood pressure or Insomnia. Men who suffer from Sleep Apnea are at a great risk for developing much more severe health issues; especially in middle-aged men, identifying the disorder in a timely manner is vital to heal preservation.
When consulting a medical professional, it is important that males be open and honest about all of the problems that are experiencing that may, or may not, be related to sleep. Sometimes, being completely open about your medical life can help your doctor identify the signs of symptoms that would have gone unnoticed otherwise.