Insight From a Sleep Apnea Doctor in Diagnosing & Treating OSA

Insight From a Sleep Apnea Doctor in Diagnosing & Treating OSA

June 02, 2024

If you suffer from repetitive breathing disruption, you may have a common sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder can reduce the quality of sleep and lead to potentially serious health complications. Proper diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can cure this disorder and reduce long-term health issues to enhance the quality of life.

  • Diagnostic process of obstructive sleep apnea

Based on an overnight test, where breathing is evaluated during sleep, the doctor would determine whether you need an obstructive sleep apnea test by examining your symptoms, risk factors, and specific physical examinations.

The common symptoms are causes - pauses between breathing, which can be seen by any family member, gasping sounds while sleeping, persistent and loud snoring, restlessness on unrefreshing sleep, excessive sleeping during the day, and morning headaches.

The medical specialist reviews the patient's medical history, conducts a physical examination, and estimates the risk factors or health conditions that can be associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Details recorded include age, sex, obesity, larger neck area, large tongue, crowded upper airway, high blood pressure, normal heart rhythm, nighttime chest pain, heart failure, etc. 

Doctors can also use other parameters to determine the severity of obstructive sleep apnea, such as the STOP-Bang questionnaire, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and the Berlin score.

  • What is a sleep apnea test?

An obstructive sleep apnea test is conducted overnight to get a confirmation of the sleeping disorder. There are primarily two types of tests: 

  1. In-lab sleep apnea test 

This is conducted in a sleep laboratory under the supervision of a specialist using tools to evaluate the person's sleep health. The data collected includes:

  1. Changes in airflow through the lungs.
  2. Oxygen level in the blood pattern and rate of heartbeat.
  3. Length of sleep stages.
  4. Sleeping position.
  5. Movement during sleep.

The doctors are usually seen to consider the apnea-hypopnea index to determine the stage of Obstructive sleep apnea, based on which it can be either mild, moderate, or severe. 

  1. At-home sleep apnea test 

The test for sleep apnea treatment can also be conducted at home at the patient's house using special devices. Throughout the night, the trainer uses a pre-programmed device, and it is undertaken only if the doctor suspects that the person has OSA and not any other sleep disorder. The person has not been detected with any sleeping disorder or other health problems that can interfere with breathing; the tests are conducted at home. Based on the number of breathing disruptions detected, the diagnosis is performed. However, it is always recommended for sleep study in labs.

  • What are the treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?

Various treatments are available for obstructive sleep apnea based on the severity and overall health of the patient. The standard approach is positive airway pressure (PAP), where a CPAP device keeps the airway from narrowing, which might cause breeding disruption. In addition to this surgery, the doctor can prescribe oral applications and nerve stimulations. Some patients have also explored alternative remedies like Delta 8 gummies, though their efficacy for treating sleep apnea is not clinically proven.

Summing it up

The patient, diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, is recommended to undergo a lifestyle change that would address the underlying issues. To treat OSA, it is advised to practice good sleep habits, exercise daily, maintain a healthy weight, moderate alcohol consumption, reduce smoking habits, avoid back sleeping, etc.


 

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