Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Fri, 06/25/2010

Sleep apnea is diagnosing base on the medical and family histories, physical exam, and results from sleep studies. Usually primary-care doctor evaluates the symptoms first. He or she then decides whether there is any need to see a sleep specialist.

These specialists are doctors with experience in diagnose and treat people with sleep problems. They may include lung, nerve, or ear, nose, and throat specialists.

Sleep apnea diagnosis test

The diagnosis of sleep apnea is usually based on the; Medical & family history, physical examintion, sleep study, and Polysomnogram

Medical and Family History – Sleep-apnea Test

Doctor will ask patient and their family members about how the patient sleeps and how he/she functions during the day. To help the doctor diagnosis, keeping a sleep diary for one to two weeks. Write down how much sleep each night, as well as how sleepy at various times during the day.

Help diagnosis by providing details about how louder the snoring is and how often make gasping or choking during sleep. Patients are not aware of these symptoms and so family member or bed partner help to provide such details.

If the parent is a child who may have sleep apnea, discuss with child's doctor about the child's signs and symptoms.

Tell your doctor if anyone in the family diagnosed with sleep apnea or has had symptoms of the disorder.

Physical Exam - Sleep apnea Diagnosis

Doctor will check the mouth, nose, and throat for extra or large tissues that may narrow the windpipe, which develops sleep apnea. The tonsils often are enlarging in children with sleep apnea.

Adults with sleep apnea may have an enlarged uvula (tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of the mouth) or soft palate (roof of the mouth in the back of the throat).

Sleep apnea sleep Studies

A sleep study is the most accurate test for diagnosing sleep apnea. It collects various information that happens with breathing while sleep.

A sleep study is often performing in a sleep center or lab; it may be a part of the hospital. Patients need to stay overnight in the sleep center.


A polysomnogram or PSG is the most common study for diagnosing sleep apnea. This test records:

  • Brain’s activity
  • Eye movement and other muscle activity
  • Heart rate & breathing
  • Quantity of air moves in and out of the lungs while sleeping
  • Level of oxygen in the blood

A PSG is painless, patent needs to go to sleep as usual, but with sensors on the scalp, face, chest, limbs, and finger. The staff at the sleep center will check and record data throughout the night.

A sleep specialist analyzes the results of the PSG to see whether have sleep apnea and if so then how severe, it is. He or she will use the results to plan for the treatment.