If you’ve done any research on sleep apnea, you may know that it must be diagnosed by a medical doctor.
What type of doctor diagnoses sleep apnea?
As it turns out, there are quite a few specialties. 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 identify 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 carry out tests.
During a sleep study, the RPT will usually perform 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 carried out 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 alternatives for treatment. Many people 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 you are diagnosed as having Obstructive Sleep Apnea, make sure you research all treatment options.
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