Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can affect your quality of life. If you may have sleep apnea and aren’t sure, it’s best to get yourself checked out or do an at home sleep study. In this article, we’ll discuss all aspects of getting tested for sleep apnea: from what kinds of tests are available to what happens if you discover the disorder.
Visit Your Primary Care Physician
You can also see your primary care physician, who may be able to refer you to a sleep specialist. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults with symptoms of OSA visit their PCP for an evaluation before visiting a sleep center.
Your PCP will likely test for OSA by observing your breathing patterns and using a portable monitor called an oximeter, which measures oxygen levels in your blood. They may also order an overnight home sleep test (HSST), which involves wearing a face mask that collects data about how much air you’re breathing in and out over 24 hours and how frequently you wake up during the night. In addition, they might ask if you’ve ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure or narcolepsy; these conditions are common among people with OSA.
If necessary, your PCP can refer you directly to a specialist like an otolaryngologist or pulmonologist—but this step isn’t always necessary. Many people are diagnosed at their regular medical checkups because their doctors take note of their symptoms and refer them directly without any need for further testing.
Related: Habits That Will Help You Sleep Better
Consult with a Sleep Specialist
If you think you have sleep apnea, it’s best to consult a sleep specialist. Your primary care physician or dentist can refer you to one. In general, they’re experts in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. They’ll also help determine what treatment is right for you and your unique needs—oral appliances (such as mouthpieces), surgery, or something else entirely.
What should I expect at my appointment?
Your first visit is typically about two hours long and will include the following:
A physical exam (if necessary)
Questionnaires that assess whether any symptoms are present on the basis of different factors such as age, gender, etc., which may influence the results of the test beyond just being overweight or having high blood pressure. These questionnaires also help determine which type of treatment would be most effective in alleviating those symptoms over time based on findings from previous studies.
Related: Florida Sleep Specialist
Home Sleep Apnea Test
A Home Sleep Apnea Test (HST) requires you to wear a mask over your nose and mouth while sleeping, which will collect information about the quality of your breathing during sleep.
It’s recommended that you make an appointment with your physician or sleep specialist for insomnia treatment online before getting tested so they can ensure that it’s safe for you to take this type of test.
Related: How Does A Sleep Study Work or How to get a Sleep Study Test
In-Lab Sleep Test
A doctor may recommend an in-lab sleep test if you have sleep apnea. This test aims to determine whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is. During the test, you will be hooked to equipment that monitors your breathing during sleep. You will stay overnight at the lab for the tests to be performed on multiple nights.
The following tests may be used:
CPAP – A CPAP machine delivers air through a mask that fits over your nose while you sleep. It helps keep airways open by providing more pressure than normal breathing would provide on its own (and therefore less oxygen).
However, there may also be cases where CPAP fails because patients self-report limited compliance with treatment despite objective evidence indicating otherwise (e.g., increased daytime fatigue upon waking up after two hours of interrupted rest).
Related: Sleep Disorder Specialist Jacksonville Florida
The best way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to visit your primary care physician. You can rely on SleepRx if you want to consult a doctor online. Our sleep medicine doctor will refer you to an insomnia specialist who can conduct an in-lab or home sleep test.
If the result of either test is positive, you may be prescribed a CPAP machine (positive airway pressure device) that keeps your airways open while sleeping and prevents the potentially dangerous symptoms of sleep apnea.