Pregnant Women with Sleep Apnea: It’s Vital to be Screened
Nearly half the pregnant women who have hypertension—and who snore on a regular basis—have sleep apnea. Pregnant women with sleep apnea are just one part of a growing number of sleep disorders that women are experiencing. This is cause for concern but physicians can treat the problem early on by screening patients who present with all of these risk factors.
Sleep apnea causes blood oxygen levels to drop while sleeping. This is particularly harmful for a woman who is pregnant, as it affects her unborn child. The good news is that habitual snoring, which is snoring 3 or more times a week, can be a telltale sign that sleep apnea is present. So, if a pregnant woman is aware that she snores, it is important that she mention this fact her doctor.
It has been conclusively shown that it is not an optimal situation when a woman snores during pregnancy. Both mother and child may experience adverse effects. Snoring can add to delivery complications and adversely impact the health of the child later in life. It can also be an indicator of pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure during the pregnancy. The study went on to reveal that up to 25% of pregnant women with high blood pressure may have sleep apnea, even though they may not snore.
For this reason, physicians are urged to screen patients for sleep apnea who are pregnant and present with hypertension. Both conditions—sleep apnea and hypertension—can be safely treated during pregnancy. It is very important that pregnant women with sleep apnea are treated early and appropriately, as this helps ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. It also helps cut healthcare costs associated with difficult deliveries and can help to minimize other complications that may arise during the pregnancy.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disorder where breathing may be halted or slowed during sleep. It occurs when the windpipe is obstructed by any of a number of things: This can include excess flesh, muscle problems, tongue or tonsil obstruction or other issues. These cause the windpipe to be temporarily blocked. The prevention of air to the lungs causes alarm within the body and a person is awakened. Cases where sleep apnea is severe show that this halt in breathing can happen hundreds of times during one night. Due to the fact that it is potentially life threatening, it is a good idea to know the signs and find out if one has sleep apnea.
For many, snoring is just a part of life. Partners and families learn to sleep through whatever chorus of sounds one may produce. However, it is important to know when snoring may mean something else. Snoring should not be ignored when it is loud and constant. There are other symptoms to look out for that can help determine if one has obstructive sleep apnea.
Besides snoring, there are other signs and symptoms that could alert you to the possibility of having obstructive sleep apnea. Waking up during the night and gasping for air should not be disregarded; chest pain during the night is another symptom that shouldn’t be taken lightly as well. The more obvious ones are directly related to not getting sufficient rest. One may feel excessively tired or drowsy—a mental fog may settle in, making it difficult to make decisions or think clearly. Other signs include high blood pressure, irritability, memory trouble, weight gain and restless sleep.
It is important to talk to your doctor if these signs are noticed, even if they may not appear to be that severe. Left untreated, sleep apnea greatly increases risk of heart disease, stroke or other serious issues. Treatment options are available to help manage sleep apnea. So don’t take snoring or restless sleep lightly; it may be that your body is trying to tell you something.