Is It Sleep Apnea?
For many sleep apnea patients, spouses are the first ones to suspect something is wrong. Spouses often report heavy snoring, struggle to breathe and gasping.
Most Don't Know They Have Sleep Apnea
People who suffer from sleep apnea often do not know they have a problem. Many may not believe it, when told. It is important that the person be encouraged to see a doctor for evaluation of a possible sleep problem.
Co-workers or friends of sleep apnea sufferers may notice that they fall asleep throughout the day, at the most inappropriate times. Sleep apnea sufferers can fall asleep while driving a car, working or even talking.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of sleep apnea is not simple. There can be many different reasons for disturbed sleep.
Primary care physicians, pulmonologists, neurologists or other physicians with specialty training in sleep disorders may be involved in making a definitive diagnosis and initiating treatment. Several tests are available for evaluating a person for sleep apnea.
POLYSOMNOGRAPHY is a test that records a variety of body functions during sleep, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, air flow and blood oxygen levels. These tests are used both to diagnose sleep apnea and to determine its severity.
MULTIPLE SLEEP LATENCY (MSLT) measures the speed of falling asleep. In this test, patients are given several opportunities to fall asleep during the course of a day. People without sleep problems usually take an average of 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. Individuals who fall asleep in less than 5 minutes are suspect for sleep disorders.
DIAGNOSTIC TESTS are usually performed in a sleep center. New technology may allow some sleep studies to be conducted in the patient’s home.