Sleep apnea is accompanied by many symptoms that are usually ignored or taken for granted. Oftentimes, loud snoring is often mistaken as a sign of fatigue or deep sleep. Although not all people who snore have sleep apnea, it remains to be one of the indications that a person might be afflicted. To be sure, there is the need for sleep apnea diagnosis to determine the right treatment for the condition.
The lack of sleep apnea diagnosis is oftentimes the reason why symptoms persist. Ignorance about sleep apnea may lead the patient to seek a different treatment that does not address apnea itself. However, if your primary doctor suspects that you have sleep apnea, he may recommend a sleep disorder specialist who can perform extensive test or study on your condition.
The Different Techniques of Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Diagnosis of sleep apnea involves some very simple and painless processes. Your health specialist may recommend several techniques in performing sleep apnea diagnosis. Choosing any of these techniques can greatly aid in finding the right treatment and avoid the adverse complications that may arise from the sleeping disorder. Once diagnosis is completed, treatment can be started that can allow you to sleep well again.
• Polysomnography – The word may be long and difficult to pronounce, but it is actually the most common test conducted to confirm whether a person has sleep apnea or not. This machine records brain activity and other body functions while the patient is asleep. The Polysomnography or PSG takes note of the eye and muscle movement, breathing pattern, heart rate, oxygen levels and airflow. The result of the PSG is used for the proper diagnosis and for determining the severity of sleep apnea in a person.
• Oximetry – It is usually performed at the patient’s home where he is more comfortable to fall asleep. The oxygen level is checked by putting a finger sleeve on the patient whose condition may be confirmed as sleep apnea if the oxygen level is low. This test is usually paired with PSG to validate its results.
• Multiple Sleep Latency Test or MSLT – This test is usually done by using a timer to determine how fast the patient falls into a deep sleep on daytime. Persons without sleep apnea usually fall asleep after 20 minutes. Nevertheless, people who instantly fall asleep within five minutes can be suspected to have the sleeping disorder.
• Portable Cardiorespiratory Tests – This portable test must be performed under the supervision of a certified physician who can measure and evaluate the airflow, heart rate and breathing pattern of the patient. The test is conducted along with any of the other techniques for validating the results.
• Unattended Monitoring with Auto-CPAP – A recent breakthrough to detect sleep apnea comes in the form of this home monitoring test that utilizes the auto-CPAP machine already in use. The simple technique uses a monitor that records and analyses all the information gathered during apnea bouts.
In some cases, other complicated tests may be performed for severe sleep apnea. However, the severity, as determined by any of these painless techniques, dictates the type of test to be administered. If the airway is too narrow or often collapses while sleeping, a fiber-optic pharyngoscopy is inserted into the mouth of the patient to check internally. In rare instances, a CT scan may be performed to confirm the growth of excessive tissue in the neck area.
In most cases, however, initial tests involve any of these techniques to aid your doctor in coming out with a more accurate sleep apnea diagnosis. In most likelihood, a number of tests are required to have a better picture of the condition, its severity, and the exact treatment to be prescribed to cure it. Patients may find it a breeze to undergo any of the tests because all techniques are painless and even unnoticeable when performed while they seemingly drift off to dreamland.