Sleep apnea: how do I get tested?

If you're one of the many people today with undiagnosed sleep apnea, there’s good news.

Getting a test is now as simple as contacting a sleep clinic such as Coastal Sleep.

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"At Coast Sleep, we can provide a monitor that you use at home," says Paul Sweeney, President of Coastal Sleep. "There's a small nasal device to measure your airflow and a band on your chest to measure the movements. The third device is a pulse oximeter that measures the heart rate and oxygen level."

It’s a far cry from the fifteen or so devices and the long wait that sleep apnea sufferers had to endure when being diagnosed in the past. 

Sleep apnea results in a brief interruption in the breathing pattern, often many times during the night, Paul explains. And when this happens, the monitor senses that the chest is moving, but there's no airflow.

"This usually indicates an obstruction in the airway," says Paul. "The information we can gather from the monitor tells us how many times during the night you experienced this interruption of breathing. Comparing the number of events to the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) will indicate if you have sleep apnea and if so, whether if it's a mild, moderate, or severe condition."

When there are other medical issues present, or if the screening test results are inconclusive, Coastal Sleep refers patients to a sleep specialist for the more detailed in-hospital test.

"Sleep apnea is very prevalent,” says Paul. “People with diabetes or heart issues have up to 50 percent chance of suffering from the condition and there's an 83 percent of having sleep apnea if your hypertension has been shown to be drug resistant."

Even children are not exempt from suffering from sleep apnea, he says.

"Unfortunately, children present a challenge because they tend to go undiagnosed. In the past, a lot of kids would have had their tonsils removed, but these days, tonsillitis can be treated with antibiotics. Some children have large tonsils and this can result in a crowded airway."

Unlike adults, children can often benefit from surgery and the removal of tonsils or redundant tissue in the throat.

For more information about the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea call Coastal Sleep at 604.279.9066, visit their website or send them an email. There is a Coastal Sleep facility in the Tri-cities area located at 602-2950 Glen Drive, Coquitlam. Coastal Sleep can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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