If you snore, sleep poorly, or otherwise just feel tired day after day, you may have considered whether you have sleep apnea and what it would mean for your life if you did. You might wonder if this is a serious condition, and how you can treat it if you do in fact have it.
First things first: take a deep breath and relax. There are millions of people who snore or toss and turn at night, and many of them do not have sleep apnea. There are a number of reasons why you might struggle to sleep and you probably won’t be able to diagnose the precise problem without consulting a physician.
That said, if you do have sleep apnea, there are several treatment options available and qualified medical professionals can help you come up with the right treatment for you. There are different kinds of sleep apnea, and sleep professionals will help you determine whether you have the more common obstructive sleep apnea or the somewhat rarer central sleep apnea. But, before we delve into that, let’s take a deeper look at the basics: what goes into a sleep apnea diagnosis, and what is your prognosis from there?
Do I Have Sleep Apnea?
There are a number of common symptoms found in patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea. Some of the most common sleep apnea symptoms include snoring loudly – often loud enough to disturb others or yourself – waking up suddenly, feeling short of breath at night, and experiencing intermittent pauses in your breathing. As you can tell, it’s somewhat difficult to tell if you have sleep apnea from these factors alone. After all, you’re asleep – how are you supposed to know how loud you’re snoring?!
Fortunately, there are symptoms that manifest themselves throughout the day as well. Once awake, people with sleep apnea often suffer from daytime fatigue and sleepiness, poor concentration, memory problems, irritability, headaches, and anxiety. Often, focusing at work or at school is difficult for people with sleep apnea. If you’ve ever caught yourself nodding off unexpectedly or mildly hallucinating, there’s a decent chance that something is wrong with your sleep.
If you’ve been told that you snore loudly or that you often wake up throughout the night, and these experiences dovetail with daytime drowsiness and general fatigue, you may want to find out if there’s an underlying cause to these problems. There are a number of potential causes and some are quite benign: sleeping on a comfortable mattress or an ergonomic pillow may alleviate a number of symptoms closely associated with sleep apnea. If this is the case for you, continue to monitor your sleep going forward. As long as your symptoms don’t come back, you probably don’t have any underlying medical condition to worry about.
If simple solutions don’t solve your problem though, you should consider taking the next step, and seek medical advice and treatment for your sleep problems. As with all other health related matters, you’ll want to visit a trusted physician to discuss whether or not you have sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Getting a sleep apnea diagnosis is relatively straightforward. Unfortunately, your doctor will probably not have the tools and expertise with sleep disorders to immediately make an accurate diagnosis right in his office. She will be able to make recommendations and might be confident that you have sleep apnea, but you’ll need to take a sleep study test in order to have an accurate diagnosis. This doesn’t mean you should not visit your physician: he or she will be able to steer you in the right direction if he thinks you do have sleep apnea, or they might prescribe an alternate solution if they don’t. If they do believe you have sleep apnea, the next step is scheduling a sleep study test.
Sleep Study Test
There are a number of ways that you can take this test. Perhaps the most common method would be to go to a sleep clinic for a polysomnogram or a multiple sleep latency test. These tests are a little different – put simply, the polysomnogram measures how well you sleep while the sleep latency tests measures your daytime drowsiness – but they each measure brain activity, response to stimuli, breathing patterns, and respiratory interruptions. You might be asked to take both examinations.
At the end of the tests, the sleep physician will examine your results and determine whether or not you have sleep apnea. If you do, he or she will prescribe you a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask and send you on your way.
There is an alternative test for patients who don’t want to spend a night in a sleep clinic. At CPAPMan, we offer a home sleep study exam that diagnoses whether or not you have sleep apnea. Patients simply rent our equipment, take the test while they sleep, and receive their results. Information from the test is sent to a certified sleep physician for review, and if positive, a prescription will be sent on file to CPAPMan. This does not require you to purchase anything from CPAPMan beyond the exam, but it does mean a little less legwork for you. Regardless of which route you choose, once you have your examination results, you will then purchase your CPAP equipment. If you’re interested, we’ve already written up a guide on what to do when it comes time to buy CPAP supplies.
If you have any questions about our sleep study test, any of the advice in this guide, or any general questions relating to or regarding sleep apnea or sleep apnea therapy, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Feel free to comment on our blog, reach out to us on social media at Facebook and Twitter, or find us on chat, email ([email protected]) or over the phone at 1-855-235-7626. Get in touch for help with your sleep apnea therapy today!