Mercy’s Dr. Audrey Liu Discusses Women and Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a potentially dangerous health condition when a person actually stops breathing while sleeping.
For women, the symptoms can be much less obvious than loud snoring.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 25 percent of American women are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA. Many women do not even know they have it as their symptoms are often less obvious then those of men.
According to Dr. Audrey Liu, Director of The Sleep Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, and board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Sleep Medicine, hormones are a risk factor for women when it comes to obstructive sleep apnea.
“Often they have symptoms that don't really suggest sleep apnea,” Dr. Liu said. “They may be more vague or general and these symptoms include fatigue, depression, frequent awakenings, and morning headaches.
“In women it seems to be related to hormones, so there is definitely an increased risk during pregnancy as well as with menopause.”
Patients suspected of having sleep apnea come to the sleep lab at Mercy Medical Center in search of a diagnosis. The lab may look like a hotel room, but it is far from that. Patients are hooked up to monitors that read things like respiration and brain waves.
Christian Bowman is a sleep lab technician. He observes what happens while the patient sleeps, but first tries to make them feel at home.
“(I) try to get them comfortable, get them relaxed, explain to them the whole process, and by the end of it, I'm just going to sit back and watch you guys sleep and be jealous all night and they laugh,” Bowman said.
According to Bowman, one night sleeping at the lab can make a huge difference in the quality of sleep you get for the rest of your life.
View Dr. Audrey Liu’s interview regarding women and sleep apnea.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.