How is Sleep Apnea diagnosed?

The diagnosis of sleep apnea is made through a sleep study or polysomnography.

Three easy ways to diagnose Sleep Apnea:

  1. One way is to ask your partner or a family member if you snore too loudly or if they have noticed that you pause your breathing during sleep . They are usually the first to notice. (1.2)
  2. Another way is to take the Berlin Quiz , a simple test that tells you if you are at risk.
  3. You can also record yourself sleeping. When you wake up, play the recording to check your breathing.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, schedule a visit to your doctor. Don't forget to bring the (Berlin) Questionnaire “Do I Take Any Risk?” and/or recording your sleep. There are smartphone apps that can help you with this.

The diagnosis of sleep apnea can only be made by medical professionals, either through a sleep study, at a sleep clinic, or at home using special equipment to perform the polysomnography test.
doctor

Visit your doctor

When you visit your doctor, he will assess your symptoms and perform a physical exam to see if you need to be referred to a sleep specialist. 

If you visit a sleep specialist , they will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. You will likely have to fill out a form – usually the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (1) – about how sleepy you feel when you are awake.

The Sleep Specialist will also be able to measure your weight and the circumference of your neck and perform breath tests. If you have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), your specialist will prescribe a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis.

References

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, British Lung Foundation, 2014
2. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea- information prescription, www.nhs.uk