If you’ve done any research on sleep apnea, you may realize that it must be diagnosed by a medical doctor.
What type of doctor diagnoses sleep apnea?
As it turns out, there quite a few disciplines. This is from the American Sleep Apnea Association:
Sleep specialists come from a variety of medical backgrounds. They may be pulmonologists (lung specialists), otolaryngologists (ears, nose, and throat), neurologists (brain and nerves), psychiatrists (mental health), or primary care physicians–internists and family practitioners.
When sleep disorder doctors seek to determine that a patient has sleep apnea, they refer the patient for a sleep study.
What is a sleep study?
In a sleep study, a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPT) will observe the patient overnight and complete tests.
During a sleep study, the RPT will usually provide the following tests or evaluations:
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure brain waves
- Electroculogram (EOG) which measures eye and chin movements to determine when the patient is in various stages of sleep
- Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to measure heart rate and rhythm
- Respiration test using chest bands
- Blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
Does a sleep study hurt?
No. The tests must be performed in a way that allows the patient to sleep. They are not painful.
If the doctor working with the RPT diagnoses mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea, the patient has a few choices for treatment. Many individuals believe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the only treatment. This is an unfortunate fallacy.
The patient can seek a less invasive approach by consulting with a dentist who practices dental sleep medicine. “Sleep dentists” offer oral appliance therapy or OAT. OAT is a less invasive option. For many, it’s the ideal sleep apnea therapy.
If your doctor diagnoses Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it’s important to explore all the treatments.
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