Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects around 30 million Americans. OSA is a sleep disorder whose sufferers experience throat closure many times during their sleep. The muscles that hold the throat open when awake, relax too much during sleep and narrow the airways. When the patient tries to inhale, the throat closes completely and the patient will momentarily choke until the body can right itself.
This can happen dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times during the patients sleep phase and when awake, he will experience symptoms such as overtiredness and irritability through to depression and reduced libido. A sleep apnea test can diagnose this troublesome, and sometimes life threatening, condition.
What is a sleep apnea test?
Diagnosing OSA is vital. If you feel you have the condition, relief is at hand but you must have a medical health professional diagnose you properly so that the severity can be identified. A sleep apnea test is very helpful because it allows professionals to watch and monitor you while you sleep. You will check into a sleep disorders center for an entire night for a test called a polysomnogram.
Sleep apnea tests basically require patients suspected of having OSA to sleep, as normally as possible, in a special bedroom at a disorders center. A sleep technologist will connect the patient to monitors and while this may not seem an ideal way to fall asleep, it is essential that the data be gathered efficiently in order to put together a diagnostic report.
What is tested?
During the sleep apnea test, information will be collected such as blood oxygen levels, air flow, snoring, respiratory effort and body position. The patient may also be observed for eye movements, brain waves and muscle activity.
There is no pain involved in a sleep apnea test. The only discomfort is the inconvenience of being connected via cords to the monitoring equipment. Aside from that, the patient is free to fall asleep and wake naturally, and to move around as normal.
Health insurance does cover sleep apnea tests but patients should consult their insurer to determine the level of cover and if there are any qualifying periods to wait before booking their test.
You can conduct a sleep apnea test in your own home to avoid the costs of checking into a sleep disorder center. Remember, however, that the professional tests may still be required if it is determined that you do suffer from OSA.
You will be provided with portable equipment and given instructions on how to connect the sensors to your body. Its important that you have another person, such as a spouse, adult son or daughter there to help you.
OSA is as much a problem for children who suffer from it as it is for adults. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, irritability, mood swings and aggressive behavior can be attributed to many things but may be caused by a sleep disorder. Sleep apnea testing, in conjunction with other tests, can be recommended for children as a means to determine what is causing the behaviors.
Pediatric sleep apnea testing measures brain waves, heart rate and rhythm, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood, leg movement and eye and chin movement and monitors the different stages of sleep. There is no pain involved in the testing and minimal discomfort is caused by the recording devices. It will usually be recommended that a parent stays with the child during the night.
If your child requires sleep apnea testing, you will need to find a clinic that specializes in testing children. The testing doctor who is responsible for interpreting the results will need to be familiar with pediatric patients as the methods and results differ from those of adults.
OSA is a condition that needs to be treated. A sleep apnea test is a simple, painless procedure that may help you see light at the end of a tiring, stressful tunnel.