Sleep Apnea Symptoms In Men: What They Are And Who Are At High Risk?

Sleep apnea symptoms in men are more common than in women, though millions of Americans suffer from this distressful sleep disorder.  Some interesting statistics related to sleep apnea symptoms in men:

–          More than half of the people affected are overweight

–          About half the people who have this disorder also have high BP; and the disorder is closely associated with smoking, diabetes, strokes and heart failure.

–          One in four men have the disorder

–          4 to 9% of middle-aged men suffer from one of the three types of the condition.

–          24% of sleep apnea symptoms in men remain undiagnosed and untreated.

–          Men between 40 and 70 years of age have a 46% higher risk of death than healthy older men.

–          70% of men over 65 experience sleep apnea with an AHI of at least 10.

–          Sleep apnea  affects 4% of men between 30 and 60 years,

 What are the typical signs that men display? 

There is no major difference between sleep apnea symptoms displayed by men and women. These include restless sleep, choking and gasping during sleep, loud snoring, excessive daytime tiredness, irrational weight gain, memory and focusing problems, etc.

However, there is one specific symptom that is unique to men: loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.

Sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction 

In a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2009, German researchers found that obstructive sleep apnea is independently associated with erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact the study revealed that 69% of men with sleep apnea suffered from ED.

Considered to be part of sleep apnea symptoms in men, ED could be linked to chronic and frequent oxygen deprivation that patients experience during obstructed breathing. While ED is defined as the consistent ability to achieve and maintain penile erection in order to have satisfactory sexual intercourse, obstructive sleep apnea is marked by repeated collapse of the upper respiratory tract.

During the REM stage of sleep, most men experience sleep related erection. It ensures functional and morphological health of erectile tissues. However, during apnea-related pauses in breathing, repeated oxygen deprivation as well as sleep fragmentation limits sleep-related erections with serious consequences to physiology of erection.

Most of the testosterone production in men occurs in sleep. Because sleep apnea results in decrease in production of this male sex hormone, it results in reduction of sexual drive in men, decrease of muscle mass and bone strength. One of the symptoms of all this is overall reduction in vitality.

The other factors that are linked to this particular symptom with sleep apnea patients are age, diabetes, past smoking habits, hypertension, etc.

Who run the maximum risk? 

The following factors promote sleep apnea symptoms in men:

–          Males with neck circumference larger than 17 inches

–          Receding chin reduces the tongue space in front of the mouth

–          Structural abnormalities like craniofacial deformities

–          Stress increases cortisol levels, which in turn makes a man more prone to develop sleep apnea.

–          Majority of the symptoms negatively impact heart health.

Because most men fail to report the symptoms, the condition usually remains undiagnosed and hence untreated. Most doctors fail to notice the symptoms and diagnose the condition based on common symptoms like high blood pressure, insomnia, etc.

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