Sleep apnea affects 12 million Americans with an almost similar number of undocumented cases suspected. Presenting with conjoined clinical and inferred symptoms, sleep apnea is a real problem for many that impacts their lives whether they know it or not. By definition, sleep apnea is a condition where the patient momentarily stops breathing while asleep for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes before waking up briefly and resuming normal breathing. This goes on throughout the night and in many cases, without the knowledge of the affected person. The result of this is that the sufferer has chronic daytime sleepiness, lethargy, and becomes a high-risk candidate for conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart disease, depression, etc. over time. In fact, most reports of sleep apnea are as a result of someone alerting the affected person of the situation on observation of how they sleep. When sleep apnea is identified in this way, a sleep apnea diagnosis is required.
Sleep apnea symptoms are both clinical and inferred. Clinical symptoms are measured when a formal sleep test is conducted, such as polysomnography that measures the number of apneas (times the patient stops breathing) and this is measured against what may be acceptable versus what can be diagnosed as being moderate to severe. Inferred symptoms include chronic daytime drowsiness, irritability and moodiness, lethargy, lack of motivation, depression, etc. These may point to the lack of quality sleep during nighttime. To get a sleep apnea diagnosis, the doctor will interview you to determine how your days typically are, whether you are always drowsy, etc. They may then request further information from someone able to observe you while you are sleeping (e.g. your spouse). The doctor may also prescribe an oximetry test to be performed at home. Once diagnosed, the doctor will also determine whether you are suffering from central sleep apnea (CSA), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or mixed sleep apnea (MSA), which are the three types of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea diagnosis is fairly straightforward and what requires further investigation is what is causing the condition. In central sleep apnea (CSA), the brain’s neural feedback mechanism that regulates breathings while sleeping is impaired. This results in delayed inhalation (apnea) with no struggle or observable discomfort. After this episode, there may follow a period of rapid breathing (hyperpnoea). The most common type of sleep apnea, OSA, is caused by some form of obstruction to the airway either at the nasal level or at the throat level and results in symptoms such as snoring, gasping or choking awakenings, etc. The last, MSA, is a composite of both. Treatment varies from case to case and may involve anything from medication to surgery.
Testing for sleep apnea has no side effects although treatments, as varied as they are, will have certain side effects. To find out more about possible complications or side effects, consult with the doctor.
Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and which type, the next step will be to determine the best mode of treatment for the condition. Because of the varied types of sleep apnea and the multitude of underlying factor, this will be on a case by case basis.
To find out more about our Sleep Apnea Diagnosis service, visit L.A. Sinus & Allergy Specialists offices located at 1701 E Cesar Chavez Ave Suite 560, Los Angeles, CA 90033-2425, or book an appointment by calling (323) 226-0022 today.