June is men’s health month and while June seems to be flying by quickly, it is still important to raise awareness for men’s health now and all year. While different organizations provide screenings, health fairs, media appearances and other educational activities, there is one area we need to focus on even more. Men have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea. 

Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by obstructed breathing, either due to too much tissue as seen in obesity or decreased muscle tone which may be seen with low testosterone. This inhibits the airflow in the mouth and nose which causes snoring and decreased ability for adequate oxygenation during sleep. As a result, men often wake up numerous times during the night and rarely achieve deep sleep. 

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is a central nervous system disorder in which the brain signal for breathing is delayed. It is often caused by injury or disease affecting the brain stem. However,  most cases of sleep apnea caused by low testosterone are considered to be OSA. Additionally, OSA may primarily be considered a “man’s disease”, but it poses serious and even life-threatening health risks for women who suffer from it, too. 

Undiagnosed sleep apnea and depression

According to research, men with sleep apnea appear to have a higher risk of depression. Men with undiagnosed sleep apnea had more than double the risk of depression compared to those without sleep apnea. 

And men who had both undiagnosed, severe sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness, had an even greater risk of depression. It was shown that their risk of depression was up to five times greater than normal.  With that being said, it is key that we provide the services necessary for providing men with the diagnosis and treatment they need to overcome sleep apnea. 

Treatment is needed

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems while encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month, and every month after, we should be providing our patients with the resources they need to make educated decisions about their health, which means proper screening for sleep apnea. 

By catching sleep apnea early, and providing proper treatment options, we can continue to provide our patients with the care they need to remain healthy while also getting the rest they need or have been missing out on for so long.