Sleep apnea is a widespread sleep disorder that causes inadequate sleep at night. People with the symptoms of sleep apnea can continue to cough, gasp or stop breathing at intervals during sleep.
Severe sleep apnea can pose several risks to your health that could cause you to break down without notice. Meanwhile, people develop sleep apnea and a few more sleep disorders with mild symptoms such as breakdown of the throat muscles, loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, mood swing, choking when sleeping, daytime fatigue, difficulty falling asleep, and more.
When mild sleep apnea is left untreated, the symptoms aggravate, resulting in higher health risks factors like high blood pressure, weight loss, diabetes, heart failure, and more.
It’s incredible that many people live with mild sleep apnea syndrome but refuse to go for tests. In most cases, people ignore the signs and the need for diagnosis until things get out of hand.
Have you been getting complaints from your bed partner about loud snoring or irregular breathing when sleeping? You must stand up now and go to the nearest sleep laboratory to discuss your symptoms with a sleep specialist.
Undiagnosed sleep apnea leads to severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, which can affect your entire life drastically. Once your sleep specialists diagnose sleep apnea, the next thing is to arrange for a sleep apnea test. You can schedule the sleep apnea test in two ways: go to the sleep laboratory or invite the sleep specialist for a home sleep apnea Australia test.
During the sleep apnea test, your doctor may ask you to sleep over to observe your sleep and monitor your breathing.
There are various practical tests and treatments for sleep apnea. We will expose you to some test options for diagnosing mild sleep apnea.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Before your doctor would recommend any of the options, he must first diagnose you with sleep apnea. To diagnose sleep apnea, the healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, and you need to provide honest answers to aid accuracy in the test laboratory.
The specialist may ask you to complete some questionnaires to evaluate symptoms like daytime sleepiness and risk factors for the health condition, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and age.
If your medic suspects sleep apnea, he may recommend a sleep study or polysomnograph, which involves spending the night at a sleep laboratory. The doctor will monitor your breathing and other sign while you sleep.
It is also possible to monitor your sleep in your own home. For example, your doctor might suggest a home sleep apnea testing if your symptoms recommend obstructive sleep apnea.
In-Lab Sleep Study
AN In-lab sleep study is used to diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Many sleep studies generally hold between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. during this period; you will stay in a private room – much like a hotel room – to make you feel comfortable,
Sleep studies are noninvasive. That means it doesn’t require giving a blood sample. However, you will have a variety of cables attached to your body. That enables the sleep specialist to monitor your brain activity, breathing, and other vital signs while sleeping.
Once you fall asleep, the specialist will monitor the following:
- your sleep cycle, as determined by your brain waves and eye movements
- your position and any limb movements
- your heart rate and blood pressure
- your breathing, including breathing lapses and snoring
What Are The Two Formats For Sleep Studies?
There are two formats for sleep studies: whole night and split night.
The doctor will monitor you for an entire night when you are undergoing a full-night sleep study. If you are diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea, you may return to the lab later to set up a machine to help you breathe.
During a split-night study, the night’s first half monitors your sleep. Then, if mild obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, the other half of the night is used to provide the treatment device.
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Home Sleep Apnea Testing
A home sleep apnea test is a simplified version of the in-lab test mentioned earlier. It doesn’t require the efforts of doctors. Instead, your doctor will recommend a portable breathing monitor kit for you at home.
You can follow your regular bedtime routine on the night of the test. However, pay special attention to the instructions to fix the monitoring sensors correctly.
Most home sleep apnea test monitors are easy to set up. They include the following components:
- tracking sensor
- a finger clip that measures your blood oxygen levels
- a nasal cannula to measure oxygen and airflow pressure
Unlike an in-lab test, an at-home test doesn’t measure your sleep cycles, position, or limb movements throughout the night.
After the test, you will send your result to your doctor, who will contact you to discuss the results and recommend treatment if necessary.
Interpreting Your Test Results
Your sleep specialist will interpret the results of your in-lab or at-home sleep apnea test.
Doctors use the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) scale to diagnose sleep apnea. This scale measures the number of lapses in breath per hour during the sleep study.
People who are free of sleep apnea, or have mild sleep apnea, usually experience less than four apneas per hour. However, people with severe sleep apnea may experience up to 40 sleep apneas per hour.
When diagnosing sleep apnea in the lab, your doctor will review your oxygen levels. While there’s no specified cutoff level for sleep apnea, it is right to say you have sleep apnea if your blood oxygen levels go below average
What are the Treatment options available for sleep apnea?
The proper treatment for sleep apnea depends on the severity of the sleep apnea syndrome. In some cases, a slight lifestyle change is required. These may include:
- using a unique sleep apnea pillow
- losing weight
- changing your sleep position
In-lab and at-home sleep apnea tests measure vital functions, such as breathing patterns, heart rate, and more. The results of these tests can help your doctor determine whether you have severe obstructive sleep apnea.
A polysomnography (PSG) conducted in a lab is the most accurate test to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. However, at-home oversleeps apnea tests have reasonable accuracy. They are also more cost-effective and convenient.