Should I get a sleep apnea test?

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder affecting up to one in five American adults. It is diagnosed with a sleep apnea test called a sleep study.

Unlike other sleep disorders such as insomnia, many people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it. In fact, they may be getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and signs of sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is when breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Because the body is unable to get sufficient oxygen while sleeping, it must wake up to breathe. The frequent waking is what leads to poor quality sleep, even if the person doesn’t know they’re doing it.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

Central sleep apnea is when the brain fails to tell the body to breathe during sleep. This type is uncommon.

Obstructive sleep apnea is when the airway collapses during sleep and air is unable to get through. This type accounts for the majority of sleep apneas.

Both types are serious medical conditions that require a proper diagnosis with a sleep apnea test and treatment.

What causes obstructive sleep apnea?

There are numerous physical causes of obstructive sleep apnea, including being overweight, having a large neck circumference, having a small upper airway, and having a large tongue or tonsils. Other causes include alcohol or opioid use, smoking, being 40 or older, and genetics.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

The only way to know for sure you have sleep apnea is to have a sleep apnea test. Talk to your doctor if you feel sleepy during the day even after sleeping seven to eight hours at night. Also make an appointment if your bed partner says you snore loudly or they’ve witnessed you gasping for air in your sleep.

Other signs of sleep apnea include problems paying attention, waking up often in the middle of the night, sexual dysfunction, and having a dry mouth or headaches when you wake up.

What is a sleep apnea test?

A sleep apnea test, also called a sleep study, is a medical test that tracks your breathing, heart rate, eye movement and other indicators while you sleep. The results will show your physician how many times your breathing was interrupted during the night. He or she will use the information collected during the test to determine if you have sleep apnea and what type.

The Sleep Labs at Penn Highlands Healthcare offer at-home and in-lab sleep apnea tests.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Yes, sleep apnea can be dangerous. The sleep disorder affects much more than just how refreshed you feel in the morning. The condition can cause your blood pressure to become high. As a result, your risk for heart disease increases.

Sleep apnea also may be linked to Type 2 diabetes. We know that being obese increases your risk for both Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. There is also some evidence that sleep apnea might increase the risk of insulin resistance, which can result in Type 2 diabetes.

Sleep apnea also diminishes your alertness, leading to injury. It can lead to work accidents and car crashes caused by drowsy driving. That’s why it’s so important to get a sleep apnea test if you think you have the condition.

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