Simply put, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles which assist the soft tissues in the throat, such as the soft palate and the tongue, relax temporarily. As these muscles tend to relax, the airway will become closed and narrowed. It is at this moment that the breathing gets cut momentarily.
The correct diagnosis is essential
The right way to diagnose sleep apnea is to take a family and medical history. After that, a physical examination is done to check what comes from it. Usually, the family doctor usually performs the initial evaluation and determines whether a sleep specialist should be contacted or not.
Sleep specialists are the doctors who first diagnose and then treat the sleep disorder. These doctors have varied backgrounds, like internal medicine specialists, lung specialists, and even an otolaryngologist. To know more about this, you can check out ear nose throat, head & neck surgery clinic.
Searching for the correct clinic is essential. Since there are so many of these clinics available, you need to know what to expect from them to make an informed decision.
The physical assessment and the patient history
The doctor will ask you about your sleep disorder and how long you have been suffering from it. It would help if you shared about the symptoms, such as headache or drowsiness, that you face. Snoring loudly is also one symptom to take note of. They might suggest a sleep diary that will enable them to understand their sleep pattern. You might need to learn about certain symptoms, like when your breathing stops. Here a family member gets asked a few sets of questions for clarity. The sleep specialist can also review your neck, throat, and mouth for any enlarged tissue to check how far the ailment has progressed and treat it accordingly.
The sleep study is crucial
Generally, the clinics conduct a sleep study, that is one of the best ways to detect sleep apnea. Simply put, it’s an assessment of the body’s functions and breathing overnight. There are two kinds of sleep studies, namely:
- Polysomnography – It gets conducted in a leading sleep clinic or center, where the eye movements, brain activity, and other vital aspects, such as blood pressure and heart rate, get recorded. The patient’s oxygen level also gets measured along with the chest movement. It usually gets recommended for patients who have a slightly complicated condition.
- The home-based test is an easy test that gets done using a portable monitor, which measures almost what the earliest test does. However, this method is affordable, and you can get it done within the comfort zone of the house. Usually, it gets recommended for the patients facing extreme symptoms that might interfere with test outcomes.
Finally, patients who suffer from mild sleep apnea are asked to change their lifestyle patterns, such as quitting smoking or reducing weight. People who have nasal allergies will get the desired treatment. When such measures fail, the doctor makes use of other therapies and air passage devices to resolve the issue.