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Sleep apnea
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Sleep apnea
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BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM

Sleep

When to seek medical advice

Consult a medical professional if you experience the following:

  • Snoring loud enough to disturb the sleep of others or yourself

  • Shortness of breath that awakens you from sleep

  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep

  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you're working, watching television or even driving

Many people don't think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. But be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that's punctuated by periods of silence. With sleep apnea, snoring typically is loudest when you sleep on your back, and it quiets when you turn on your side.

Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you chronically fatigued, sleepy and irritable. Excessive daytime drowsiness (hypersomnia) may be due to other disorders, such as narcolepsy.

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may make an evaluation based on your signs and symptoms or may refer you to a sleep disorder center, where an evaluation often involves overnight monitoring of your breathing and other body functions during sleep. Tests to detect sleep apnea may include:

  • Nocturnal polysomnography. During this test, you're hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. Because treatments for other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and insomnia differ, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis.

  • Oximetry. This screening method involves using a small machine that monitors and records your oxygen level while you're asleep. A simple sleeve fits painlessly over one of your fingers to collect the information overnight at home. If you have sleep apnea, the results of this test will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas and subsequent rises with awakenings. If the results are abnormal, your doctor may have you undergo polysomnography to confirm the diagnosis. Oximetry doesn't detect all cases of sleep apnea, so your doctor may still recommend a polysomnogram even if the oximetry results are normal.

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG). This test monitors your brain waves and can reveal repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor (otolaryngologist) to rule out any blockage in your nose or throat. An evaluation by a heart doctor (cardiologist) or a doctor who specializes in the nervous system (neurologist) may be necessary to look for causes of central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:16 AM