Exams and Tests
Your doctor will
examine you and ask you and possibly your sleep
partner some questions about your lifestyle, snoring, sleep behavior, and how tired
you feel during the day (this is called a
Your doctor may ask you to complete
a questionnaire, such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. The answers to questions
in this questionnaire can help the doctor find out if you have sleep apnea. If
your doctor thinks that you may have sleep apnea, he or she may suggest sleep studies
or other tests.
- Sleep studies
are a series of tests that record what happens to your body during sleep. The
most important test for sleep apnea is polysomnography. This test records
electrical activity of your brain, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate,
breathing, airflow through your nose and mouth, and blood oxygen levels (saturation). Polysomnography is the only sure way to
find out whether you have sleep apnea.
- Sleep Apnea: Should I Have a Sleep Study?
Other tests that you may have include:
Diagnosing sleep apnea in children
Most doctors follow these guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:4
- During a routine checkup, your doctor will ask you and your child
about snoring. If your child snores, be sure to tell your doctor.
- A complete sleep study typically is needed to find out if your child
has sleep apnea and is not just snoring.
- Children who have sleep
apnea should see a specialist if they also have:
Testing after initial treatment
To see how well your treatment is working, you may need sleep tests after treatment begins.
If your sleep apnea has not improved after initial
treatment, and if
enlarged tissues in your mouth and throat are causing
it, your doctor may do one or more tests before suggesting surgery to remove
the excess tissue. These tests may include:
- Fiber-optic pharyngoscopy, to see
whether your airway is too narrow or collapses during breathing.
- CT scan of the head to look for an overly large tongue
and excessive soft tissue in the neck, as well as to locate the narrowest part
of your airway.
- X-rays. A cephalometric X-ray is a type
of head X-ray that allows your doctor to see bone deformities of the skull.
This type of X-ray test may not be available in every hospital.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Mark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
June 17, 2011
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