Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Diagnosing sleep apnea is usually through a polysomnography, which is a sleep study. The sleep study is undertaking at a sleep clinic or hospital. If these studies are not successful a home based sleep study can be done. 

A number of different tests will be carried out during polysomnography. During the night, several different parts of your body will be carefully monitored while you sleep.

Bands and small metallic discs called electrodes are placed on the surface of your skin and different parts of your body. Sensors are also placed on your legs and an oxygen sensor will be attached to your finger.

These tests will include:

  1. EEG - this monitors the brain waves
  2. EMG - this monitors muscle tone
  3. recording of movements in the chest and abdomen
  4. recording of airflow through the mouth and nose
  5. pulse oximetry - this measures the heart rate and blood oxygen levels
  6. ECG - this monitors the heart
  7. sound recording
  8. video recording

The Results
Once the tests have been completed, staff at the sleep centre or sleep clinic should have a good idea about whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

If you do, they can determine how much it is interrupting your sleep and recommend appropriate treatment.

How bad is it? 
Diagnosing sleep apnea and the severity of OSA is determined by how often your breathing is affected over the course of an hour. These episodes are measured using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI).

Severity of sleep apnea is measured using the following criteria:

  1. Mild – an AHI reading of 5 to 14 episodes an hour
  2. Moderate – an AHI reading of 15 to 30 episodes an hour
  3. Severe – an AHI reading of more than 30 episodes an hour

Sleep apnea should not be ignored and even mild sleep apnea should be treated to improve dysfunctional breathing.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

I have had many sleep studies since being diagnosed with sleep apnea. The first sleep study I had done was at a sleep clinic in a private hospital to determine that I actually had sleep apnea and the severity of it.

It was not a pleasant experience. So if you have a sleep study for diagnosing sleep apnea always make sure you ask what is going to happen during the study and what preparations are necessary for the study. This is important that you know what you are letting yourself in for.

diagnosing sleep apnea

I had a tube put up my nose and down my throat and then followed by a camera to ensure the tube was in the correct place. This procedure to me was an awful experience.

Make sure you ask what the procedures are so you are fully prepared. I didn't sleep a wink during the sleep study because of the tube down my throat, it was so uncomfortable.

Wishing you vibrant health!

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