FAQs About Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is an extremely common sleep disorder. In fact, approximately 20% of adults live with this condition, according to a study published in the American Medical Association Journal. In spite of it being so prevalent, many people live with this disorder for long periods of time without even knowing it is cause of their fatigue. Here are the answers to questions people often have regarding sleep apnea and how the disorder is diagnosed.

How do doctors diagnose sleep apnea?

When a patient visits the doctor asking about sleep apnea or explaining problems sleeping at night, there are several factors the doctor will look at. The doctor will likely inquire about the patient’s history and habits and ask for a list of symptoms. Continue reading to learn what specific indicators a doctor will look for that point towards this specific sleeping disorder.

What are the risk factors of sleep apnea?

There are several common risk factors for sleep apnea that people should be aware of. For one, being overweight or having a large neck can block an individual’s airway and cause breathing to cease throughout the night. This sleep disorder is also much more common among older men, although the risk of developing it increases for women after menopause. Additionally, people who struggle with nasal congestion for any reason are more likely to deal with the condition. Smoking and using alcohol or sedatives can make sleep apnea worse.

What are common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Many people with sleep apnea snore loudly and wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night. While patients do not always notice these symptoms, partners often bring these issues to light. Other symptoms an individual with sleep apnea report include waking up with a dry mouth or a headache. Many people will also experience difficulty concentrating during the day and may be increasingly irritable.

Will the doctor perform any tests?

After getting information on the patient’s history and symptoms, a test will be performed to confirm sleep apnea is truly to blame. One option is for the patient to attend an overnight sleep study. A doctor will monitor the patient while asleep and record oxygen levels and airflow along with a few other factors. Another option is Home Sleep Apnea Testing, which uses a device to record how many episodes the patient has an hour.

How is sleep apnea treated?  

The doctor will determine the appropriate treatment depending on the severity of the patient’s sleep apnea. The most common treatment used is CPAP therapy, which uses a continuous positive airway pressure mask to keep the airway open. Patients can also use a mandibular reposition device for a mild or moderate case. For more severe cases, there are various types of surgery that can help.

Conclusion

If a patient suspects sleep apnea, visiting a doctor can help. From asking the patient important questions to performing a diagnostic test, the doctor can let the individual know if this sleep disorder is the cause of their sleeping problems.

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