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Do you Have Sleep Apnea? | How To Know You Have Sleep Apnea Do you Have Sleep Apnea? | How To Know You Have Sleep Apnea

Testing for Sleep Apnea: How to Know if You Have OSA

The first step in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea is getting proper testing. Some 90 million Americans suffer from chronic snoring, but only half of those individuals may have sleep apnea. It is important to get a professional diagnosis from your doctor before starting any treatment for sleep apnea.

Tests You Can Do Right Now

If you know that you snore but aren’t sure if you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there are three tests you can do right now before seeing your doctor. These short questionnaires are not a substitute for a professional sleep study, which can be ordered by your doctor, but they should provide a strong indication of whether or not you are at risk for OSA.

Different Types of Sleep Apnea Testing

There are two types of sleep apnea testing that they may be prescribed for determining whether you have OSA or not. Sleep apnea cannot be properly self-diagnosed. To diagnose OSA, you need a sleep study. Schedule a consult with Sleep Better Northwest and we can help you get properly tested.

Nocturnal Polysomnography

The most common type of sleep apnea testing is a nocturnal polysomnography test. This test is conducted at a sleep center and requires you to stay overnight. While you sleep, technicians will monitor a variety of vital signs to help determine if you have OSA or not.

Qualified sleep specialists will monitor and review the nocturnal polysomnography test for:

  • Heart Beat and Rhythm
  • Lung Capacity and Airflow
  • Electrical Brain Activity
  • Arm and Leg Movements
  • Breathing Patterns
  • Blood Oxygen Levels

All of these factors are taken into consideration when diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Home Sleep Test

Your doctor may recommend a home sleep test to diagnose OSA. Home sleep tests are generally more comfortable for patients, since they can be done in the comfort of the patient’s own bed. Regardless, your doctor is looking to measure many of the same factors as in a nocturnal polysomnography test:

  • Heart Rate
  • Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Airflow
  • Breathing Patterns

For a home sleep test, your doctor will send you home with portable monitoring devices. Portable devices cannot measure as wide a range of factors as machines found in a sleep center, but they will be able to give your doctor a better picture of what goes on while you sleep. If the home sleep test reveals certain abnormalities, it is likely your doctor will prescribe a follow-up test in a sleep center.

Equipment Used in Sleep Apnea Studies

  • EEG: An electroencephalogram is used to measure brain waves
  • EMG: An electromyogram records muscle activity, facial twitches, teeth grinding and leg movements to determine REM stage sleep
  • EOG: An electro-oculogram records eye movements to determine various sleep stages
  • ECG: An electrocardiogram records heart rate and heart and rhythm
  • Nasal Airflow Sensor: Records airflow through the nasal passage
  • Snore Microphone: Records snoring activity while you sleep

Most of these devices are hooked up to your body with electrodes. It sounds like a lot of equipment, and most patients are surprised to discover that it is actually fairly easy to fall asleep while hooked up to the different machines used for their sleep study. Sleep apnea testing needs to gather a wide range of information about how you sleep, but the devices are not as invasive as it seems at first glance.

Sleep Center vs Home Sleep Study

Whether your doctor orders a home sleep test or a study at a local sleep center, the results that your doctor is looking for are basically the same: heart rate, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, electrical brain activity, etc. All of this information is necessary to properly diagnose sleep apnea.

The difference between a home test and one conducted at a sleep center is the quality of the data and the range of that information. Mobile sleep apnea testing devices have come a long way in previous decades, but they are simply not nearly as sophisticated as the equipment found in a sleep center.

For this reason, home sleep tests are often looking for abnormalities that would suggest to your doctor that you need a more thorough examination at a sleep center. A nocturnal polysomnography test will determine with far greater certainty whether or not you need treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

It is also possible for home sleep tests to reveal nothing abnormal. In cases where a patient has many of the symptoms of sleep apnea but a home test reveals nothing out of the ordinary, a doctor will likely order further testing at a sleep center.