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The Sleep Apnea Test Explained


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Are you concerned the symptoms you or someone you care about is experiencing may be the result of sleep apnea? Do you need some information regarding how to test for this very common sleep disorder? Sleep apnea is indeed a very common sleep disorder, but this commonality does not make it any less dangerous. In fact, if untreated, it can lead to a variety of serious health conditions including high blood pressure, heart attacks and even strokes. Only a doctor can diagnose this disorder, but if you are experiencing any of the symptoms it is recommended you make an appointment right away. In this article we will provide a brief list of the symptoms along with an outline of the sleep apnea tests doctors use to diagnose or rule out the condition.

The two most common symptoms associated with sleep apnea are general tiredness in the morning and loud snoring at night with gasps and choking sounds. There are, however, other symptoms that may or may not indicate this condition. These include:

* Morning headaches
* Dry mouth or throat in the morning
* High blood pressure (not associated with another type of condition)
* Overweight or obesity (as a cause or a symptom)
* Irritability and a general change in personality
* Anxiety and depression combined with difficulty in concentrating
* Excessive perspiring during sleep
* Heartburn or other gastrointestinal difficulties
* Decreased libido
* Frequent nocturnal urination
* Rapid weight gain
* Generally restless sleep
* Confusion upon waking up

All of these may be an indication of sleep apnea, and they all warrant a visit to the doctor so that you can be evaluated with a sleep apnea test.

Apnea during sleep can be difficult for a doctor diagnose, largely because most of the symptoms happen overnight while you're sleeping. However, based on the signs and symptoms you exhibit, your doctor may refer you to a sleep center for further evaluation. There you will meet with a sleep specialist for further evaluation, which may include overnight monitoring of your breathing and other bodily functions while you sleep. The sleep apnea tests these specialists use to determine whether or not you are suffering from apnea during sleep include:

Nocturnal polysomnography - Nocturnal polysomnography is a test in which you will be hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, brain and lung activity, as well as your breathing patterns, movement of your extremities and your blood oxygen saturation while you sleep. This is the most common test for apnea and the results are usually a great indication of whether or not you are suffering from the disease.

Portable monitoring devices - In some cases, your doctor may provide you with portable monitoring devices that can monitor your breathing patterns while you sleep at home. These sleep apnea tests are usually performed over a series of nights, at which time you will report back to the doctor with the results. If the results are abnormal, you may then be referred to a sleep center where you will undergo the polysomnography.

Other tests in determining apnea during sleep could include a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist to check for an obstruction. In the case of central sleep apnea, a visit to a neurologist may be warranted.
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