One of the scariest things about sleep apnea is that most people who have it don’t know that they have it. Although there are symptoms that might make us suspect sleep apnea, and screening tools we use to decide on further testing, there is no way to look at a person in our office to decide if that person has sleep apnea or not. The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep test.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
So what are some of the symptoms that might prompt a sleep test? While sleep apnea occurs while you’re sleeping, there are still plenty of warning signs. Here are some of the symptoms you might recognize:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Falling asleep when you’re inactive
- Falling asleep during mundane activity (work, driving, watching TV, etc.)
- Waking unrested despite long sleep
- Morning headache
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Feeling moody, irritable, or depressed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Waking up to urinate often at night
- Waking up gasping for breath
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight despite diet changes and exercise
You don’t need to have all these symptoms, but if you can identify three or more that you experience, it’s a good idea to consider whether you might have sleep apnea.
If you have a partner who sleeps with you, they may notice (and complain about):
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking sound at night
- Pauses in your breathing
- Restless or noisy sleep
You might also have been diagnosed with conditions linked to sleep apnea, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Sexual dysfunction
Other times, you might be misdiagnosed with conditions that can show similar symptoms to sleep apnea, including:
- Low testosterone
- Thyroid problems
- Restless leg syndrome
All of these diagnoses might be related to sleep apnea, and sometimes the problems will resolve when your apnea is treated.
Sleep Apnea Screening
If your symptoms make you suspect sleep apnea, screening tools can help decide if you are at high risk for sleep apnea. These are usually questionnaires, but sometimes other tests are used, too. We have a sleep apnea risk quiz on our website.
Sleep apnea screening can’t tell if you have sleep apnea or not, but it can help us decide to recommend a sleep test.
A sleep test is the only way to diagnose sleep apnea. There are two common ways to perform a sleep test: a polysomnography (PSG) conducted at a sleep lab or a home sleep test (HST), which you can do in the comfort of your home.
Most insurance companies not only allow an HST, they prefer it. It’s less expensive for them, and for many people it’s just as accurate as a PSG. Most people also like an HST because it’s more comfortable, less disruptive, and less expensive. Find out if an HST is right for you.
A sleep lab PSG gives more detailed information. This can help distinguish between sleep apnea and other sleep conditions that might be hard to distinguish with an HST.
Do I Have to Be Diagnosed before I Come to You?
No. We can work with you, your insurance company, and your doctors if needed, to make sure you get an appropriate evaluation of your sleep. This is what we do all day, every day, and we can guide you in this process.
To get tested for sleep apnea in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.