Think your snoring is just annoying your partner? It could signal a bigger problem.
Sleep apnea causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep, triggering that loud snoring as your nasal passages get blocked. Unfortunately, it is not easily diagnosed unless it becomes severe and can’t be detected through a blood test.
If you think you’re suffering from sleep apnea, here are some special tests to detect it.
For home sleep tests, your doctor will ask you to monitor yourself by recording your breathing pattern, measuring your heart rate and determining the oxygen level in your blood. When you suffer from sleep apnea, the oxygen level in your blood falls while you sleep and rises when you wake up.
For this sleep study, a monitor checks the activities of your brain, heart and lungs. It also observes your respiratory patterns along with the activities of your legs and arms and blood oxygen levels during sleep. Also known as polysomnogram, this study allows your doctor to record your physical activities overnight while you sleep.
There are also online tests available, like Snore Score, Berlin Sleep Questionnaire and Epworth Sleepiness Scale. You can download these apps and use your phone as the actual test equipment. Snore Score records your snoring pattern, and Berlin Sleep Questionnaire and Epworth Sleepiness Scale offer survey questions.
Electrocardiogram or ECG, used for cardiology, supervises your heart rate. It is a modern and innovative way to diagnose sleep apnea and helps detect the most widespread type of sleep apnea known as ‘Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.’ Electrooculogram (EOG) monitors the movements of the eyes to determine diverse sleep phases. Electroencephalogram (EEG) monitors your brain activities, and electromyogram (EMG) supervises muscle activities, such as legs and arms movements.
The oximeter finger probe is a kind of sensor, which clips on to your fingertips or some other thin part of your body and determines the changes in the wavelength of the blood flow. This inexpensive test requires light to function, but has its limitations. For example, it will not give you accurate results if your nails are painted or unclean.
It’s easy to confuse sleep apnea and simple snoring. For proper treatment, it is important to know the difference. If you witness symptoms such as persistent and loud snoring, pauses in breathing or fatigue (even after sleeping properly), consult a physician immediately.