If your doctor suspects you could be suffering from sleep apnea, one of the first things that may be prescribed is a sleep apnea test. It is natural to feel nervous about any medical examination, and the sleep apnea test is no exception. However, there is nothing to worry about. This short guide will go over everything to expect at this examination.
Why testing is necessary
Many people wonder why a sleep apnea test is even necessary.
A hard-to-diagnose condition
Surprisingly, sleep apnea is a difficult condition to diagnose. Sleep apnea is when an individual stops breathing in their sleep. How can there be any confusion about that?
However, because it occurs exclusively while asleep, the most obvious symptoms are often missed entirely. Those suffering from sleep apnea usually wake up when they stop breathing, but these awakening are often not remembered, even if they happen as many as 30 times over any one night. If someone sleeps with another person in the room, that individual may notice some of the symptoms, such as periods of silence between snores, excessive sweat or gasping or choking.
If there is any doubt, taking a sleep apnea test is a recommended way to tell if an individual is suffering from the condition. Medical professionals may request such a test if there are other symptoms indicating a patient has this condition.
The sleep apnea test
So what does the examination actually entail?
Sleep lab testing
The standard sleep apnea test takes place in a sleep lab. Sleep labs have accommodations for patients to sleep comfortably. Before the test begins, sensors will be attached to the patient's body using adhesive. Sensors will be placed on the:
- Index finger
Additionally, bands may be placed around the chest and stomach to measure the patient's breathing while sleeping.
All of these sensors are designed to collect information about the heart, lungs, muscles and brain. Essentially, the patient will be asked to sleep as they normally would, and their sleep patterns and breathing will be observed. Naturally, many people worry about not being able to sleep in an unfamiliar and intimidating environment. Sleep labs take measures to help the patients get to sleep quickly and sleep as comfortably as possible. Most people report not having any trouble getting to sleep, so there is nothing to worry about.
Sometimes it may be possible to take a sleep apnea test at home. This can be more comfortable and convenient, but it is also more expensive. If a patient has good health insurance coverage, it may be a more feasible option. Additionally, sometimes complications may make it necessary to take the test at home.
It is easy to write sleep apnea off as a minor condition, but the medical world considers it quite serious. If you start to notice sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may recommend a test to determine further treatment.
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