How We Diagnose Sleep Apnea
by Dr. Scott Bolding | Aug. 13, 2021
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea Takes a Comprehensive Approach
At PRECiDENT, our number one goal is to identify and treat the underlying cause of your obstructive sleep apnea. If we don’t get to the root of the problem, you will simply be managing your symptoms for the rest of your life. We aren’t content with merely prescribing a CPAP or oral appliance without knowing if those treatments will actually solve your problem. Despite the popularity of the CPAP, it’s not always the right treatment option for every patient. In order to find the right treatment option for you, we need to take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing sleep apnea.
This approach involves taking the time to thoroughly examine your airway before offering a treatment plan. We examine every possible cause so that we can address those issues. Some patients simply need to lose weight and use a CPAP machine. Others, however, need surgery to correct a variety of issues in the airway. No matter what the underlying cause of your sleep apnea is, the only way to help you sleep better is to receive the most thorough diagnosis possible.
Sleep Better. Get Your Life Back.
It’s time to get the sleep you deserve. You don’t have to keep on living with the constant daytime sleepiness and other effects of sleep apnea. Schedule a consultation with our sleep apnea specialists today and start getting your life back.
The Process of Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing sleep apnea starts with a look at your medical history. Understanding your medical history can help us determine if there are any other issues causing the obstruction in your airway. For example, issues with your jaw are one of the most common causes of sleep apnea. A misaligned or underdeveloped jaw can make the airway narrower, making it more difficult to breathe when you sleep. Other factors like weight gain, smoking, and alcohol use will also be considered. During this time, we will also want to know if anyone else in your family has had issues with sleep apnea or snoring since sleep apnea is often hereditary.
Once we have a thorough understanding of your medical history, we will examine your airway. The examination will involve looking at your throat, mouth, and nose. Dr. Bolding will also examine your jaw to see if there is any damage or deformity related to your sleep apnea. You may also be referred to an ENT who will further examine your upper airway.
Another important part of the sleep apnea diagnosis process is the sleep study or sleep test. A sleep test will give us additional data so we can more accurately understand your sleep apnea. There are two types of sleep tests: a polysomnogram (PSG) and a home sleep test.
A polysomnogram is performed in a sleep lab. During this test, you will be hooked up to equipment that monitors several things while you sleep, including:
- Brain waves
- Eye and leg movement
- Blood oxygen levels
- Heart rate
- Breathing patterns
After the test is performed, the sleep technicians will start reviewing the data. Afterward, they will send the results to your sleep apnea specialist. From there, we will discuss treatment options with you. Some sleep tests may be done as a “split-test” where you will be woken up during the night to be hooked up to a CPAP machine. The split test is done so technicians can see how you respond to positive airway pressure.
Home Sleep Tests
The alternative to a polysomnogram is a home sleep test. As its name suggests, a home sleep test is performed in the comfort of your own home. These tests don’t monitor everything that a PSG does, but they do give us an accurate picture of what’s going on in your airway while you sleep. A home sleep test uses a simple monitor that keeps track of your breathing patterns. If we decide that a home sleep test is right for you, all you have to do is pick your test up from our office. At that time, we will give you instructions on how to use it. Then, you simply go home, go through your usual bedtime routine, hook up the monitor, and go to sleep in your own bed. All the information we need will be uploaded to a cloud environment where we can access it easily. Then, just like with the PSG, we will review the data and share the results with you.
We Work Together to Help You Sleep Better
We believe that in order to provide the best diagnosis for sleep apnea, we need to work together. PRECiDENT began with a vision to create a dental clinic similar to the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic. Part of what makes these clinics work so well is how they take a collaborative approach to treating patients. They have gathered the best minds together to help solve patients’ problems.
And that’s exactly what we do at PRECiDENT. When we diagnose sleep apnea, we have an entire team of specialists from different disciplines working to help you sleep better. With different people bringing their unique expertise to the table, we are able to unravel every aspect of your sleep apnea. We leave no stone unturned during the diagnostic process.
We also work closely with other specialists outside our office. Patients are often referred to us by primary care physicians, and we continue to work with these physicians throughout the whole process. ENTs are also consulted so we get a thorough evaluation of your entire airway. Working as a team, both in and out of the PRECiDENT office, is the key to helping you breathe better and get the sleep you need.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea Can Help You Get Your Life Back.
If you have been suffering from the side effects of obstructive sleep apnea and are ready to finally breathe again, we are ready to help. Schedule a consultation with our sleep apnea specialists today, and let’s get started.