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Diagnosis and Tests for Sleep Apnea

Based on your symptoms, history and physical examination, your primary care provider may diagnose and evaluate by subjective (precieved) or objective (factual) methods. 

Subjective tests include:

  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale (self-report)
  • Physical exams of your nose, the back of the nose (or nasopharynx), your mouth, and neck circumference.
  • A flexible nasopharyngoscopy: to examine your airway during active breathing and simulated snoring movements.
  • Referral to a cardiologist or neurologist to evaluate for causes of central sleep apnea

Objective tests include:

  • Nocturnal Polysomnography: More commonly known as a sleep study.  It measures your brain waves, eye movements, muscle activity, oral and nasal air flow, your chest and abdominal movements, records how loud you snore, your blood oxygen levels, and video monitoring during sleep.  The polysomnography is the primary objective test for obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Mutiple Sleep Latency Test
  • Maintenance of Wakefulness Test

Polysomnography is usually done at a sleep center, where you stay overnight.  There are times where portable monitoring devices can be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. A home study may not detect all cases of sleep apnea, so you may still need polysomnography.

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