If your family doctor thinks you could have sleep apnea, you might be referred to a specialist for testing. Sleep apnea might be suspected when you have a snoring problem, when you awaken short of breath at night, or when you are drowsy during the day. Sleep apnea doctors may give you a physical examination along with a sleep test. Here's some information on what to expect with a sleep test and the information it can provide your doctor.
What to Expect With a Sleep Apnea Test
You may need to spend the night in a sleep clinic to have your test run. You'll be hooked up to a variety of monitors before you go to sleep so your vital signs can be graphed and monitored once you fall asleep. You may sleep with a heart monitor, EEG machine, oxygen saturation monitor, chest movement monitor, and an airflow detector connected to you. All this equipment is painless and comfortable so it won't interfere with your ability to sleep. The machines run and plot your heart rate, chest movement, and brainwaves so the doctor can look over the graph the next day and interpret what happened to your body once you fell asleep.
What A Sleep Apnea Test Can Reveal
One important thing your sleep apnea doctor will determine is if you have obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea. These are two different conditions that usually need different types of treatment. With obstructive sleep apnea, your chest moves as you struggle to breathe, but there is no airflow because your airway is obstructed. With central sleep apnea, there is a disturbance with the brain signals that keeps you from moving your chest to breathe. Your doctor can also get an idea of how serious your sleep apnea is and how it is taking a toll on your body. The test can reveal how many episodes you have per hour, how the episodes affect your heart rate, and how low your oxygen saturation drops when you have an apnea episode.
Once your doctor has the results of the sleep test, treatment can be recommended. The most common type of apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, and a common treatment for it is a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine could make a big difference in the quality of your sleep and your health, but sometimes surgery is necessary instead. Your doctor has a variety of treatment options to try, and sometimes, something as simple as losing weight and improving your health can improve your sleep apnea too.