Sleep Apnea Test: Paving the Way for Future Course of Therapy
No responsible adult is likely to misreport or omit any key symptom experienced during an illness. Even then, when it concerns diagnosing sleep apnea, doctors recommend a sleep apnea test, after a detailed hearing of all the distressful symptoms that the patient is experiencing. One may wonder what makes the doctor take this decision.
There are essentially two reasons why doctors choose this path. Firstly, majority of sleep apnea symptoms show up during sleep, making the bed partner the key spokesperson to narrate the experiences of the patient to the doctor. Even when the patient verbalizes what he or she is going through, there is always an element of subjectivity in such reporting.
Before initiating treatment of an illness as serious d sleep apnea, the doctor would not like to take any chances. The physician not only wants to get a medical confirmation regarding the specific type of sleep disorder the patient is suffering from – but more importantly, the sleep apnea test reveals the severity of the condition, up on which the future course of therapy depends.
Sleep apnea test: what is it?
The sleep apnea test also known by other names like polysomnogram examination, overnight sleep study, etc is the only objective, comprehensive and authentic diagnostic tool for the doctor to get a complete overview of the disease condition, including the nature and location of obstruction in the upper airway that is causing the sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleep apnea treatment is entirely based on how serious the condition is. If the situation is between mild and moderate, sleep apnea treatment could involve making certain lifestyle changes, or using sleep apnea pillows, etc. At times the doctor may also recommend CPAP therapy, if artificial breathing assistance is found to be necessary for normalizing airflow.
However, for more severe cases where the sleep apnea causes point towards anatomical defects like deviated septum, etc, the doctor would contemplate taking the surgery route to rectify the anomaly and restore normal breathing.
Sleep apnea diagnosis: subjective and objective approaches
1. Measuring the degree of daytime sleepiness is an important criterion for diagnosing sleep apnea. The subjective approach involves using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. It is a subjective method because most of the grading is dependent on the patients’ perception of how sleepy he or she feels during the day or during a particular activity.
Several other factors are also taken into consideration during such assessments like the past medical history of the patient, history of past accidents, tendency to take daytime naps, etc.
2. The more objective and reliable sleep apnea test is called polysomnography, done at a overnight sleep study center or even at home. The results of such a test do not rely on patient perception but on hard factual data recorded in several types of monitoring machines.
Several physiological and physical parameters are involved during this overnight sleep study and the combined results can help the doctor diagnose the seriousness of the condition. Some events recorded during sleep include study of brain waves and eye movements, muscular tension, study of oral and nasal air flow, study of chest and abdominal movements during sleep, loudness of snoring and study of oxygen levels in the blood using oxymetry.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is also assessed by two other objective types of sleep apnea tests: Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) and Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT).
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