People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing for periods of time during their sleep. The pauses in breathing may only be a few seconds, or they can be longer. Breathing then resumes, sometimes with a loud crack or snort. The condition causes significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue and contributes to high blood pressure and other health problems, so even minor cases should be evaluated by a doctor.
As a medical condition, sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a qualified medical provider. Doctors diagnose the condition based on a patient’s symptoms and results from overnight sleep testing, which can be performed in a sleep lab or in the patient’s home.
The at-home testing that is used to diagnose sleep apnea takes at least one night. In some cases, multiple nights of testing are required to get definitive results, especially if the results from one night were inconclusive for any reason.
At-home testing is often covered by health insurance policies, although specific coverages vary. To find out if they have coverage for at-home testing, patients should contact their insurance provider before beginning the first night of testing.
Anyone who thinks he or she may have sleep apnea should consider seeing a doctor for an evaluation. Sometimes people are aware that they stop breathing for short amounts of time while sleeping. Other times, people are unaware that they have sleep apnea, but a spouse or other family member may notice the symptom. Anyone who has noticed or been told that they do not breathe consistently while sleeping should make an appointment with a sleep apnea specialist.
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