Getting enough sleep is an essential part of maintaining good physical and mental health. Well-rested people are more focused, have a lower risk of heart disease or other physical health problems, and tend not to have as many episodes of depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, some people have sleep apnea, which causes the airways to become obstructed at night, making it difficult for the person to breathe. This often leads to gasping for air and jolting awake, causing sleep disturbances that only get worse over time. Luckily, there are ways to treat sleep apnea, such as wearing a CPAP with a mask, to get back into a healthy sleep routine.
3 Ways To Diagnose Sleep Apnea
There are several ways to diagnose sleep apnea. The most common one is to do a sleep study known as a nocturnal polysomnography. The study often takes place in a sleep clinic that allows the doctors to study you while you sleep. You’ll be hooked to equipment that monitors your body while you sleep, including your lung and brain activity, your heart, your arm and leg movements, your breathing patterns, and your blood oxygen levels. These tests will tell the doctor how long you spent in each sleep stage, whether you have trouble with or stop breathing, whether you snore, which positions you sleep in, how often you wake up, and whether you experienced any unusual brain activity patterns.
In some cases, your doctor may provide you with a range of simplified tests that you can use to perform your own sleep study at home. These tests will measure your blood oxygen level, breathing patterns, air flow, and heart rate. If the results are abnormal, your doctor may not require further testing before talking to you about your sleep apnea mask options.
Finally, if your doctor believes you may have obstructive sleep apnea, you may also be referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to determine if your nose or throat has a blockage. Cardiologists and neurologists sometimes help to diagnose sleep apnea or to look for its causes as well.
Doctors That Can Treat Sleep Apnea
There is a wide range of doctors who are qualified to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. A primary care doctor can talk to you about your initial concerns, including snoring, memory issues, headaches, or other symptoms. If the diagnosis and treatment is straightforward, you may not need to see someone else. If it isn’t, you may be referred to a sleep specialist.
A sleep specialist is a board-certified doctor who has had special training and testing regarding sleep-related disorders. They often also have an additional specialty, such as otolaryngology or neurology. The type of sleep specialist you see may depend on some other factors.
Psychologists and other mental health professionals can help to diagnose the problem and manage the symptoms as they relate to depression and anxiety. Other doctors who can help to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, as well as to prescribe masks like the P10 CPAP mask, include dentists, surgeons, and otolaryngologists or neurologists who did not specialize in sleep disorders.
If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, talk to your primary care physician to determine how to be diagnosed and the best way to treat it.