Usually, sleep apnea is diagnosed in a sleep disorder center by a sleep specialist. Your primary doctor may refer you to one of these centers based on your symptoms. Diagnosis of sleep apnea involves overnight monitoring of your breathing and other functions while you sleep. If your sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of your airway, you may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to check for blockage in the nose or throat. Tests to diagnose sleep apnea may include:
- Nocturnal polysomnography: this test is performed at a sleep disorder center. While you sleep, you are hooked up to equipment that monitors your breathing patterns, the activity of your heart, brain, and lungs, your arm and leg movements, and your blood oxygen levels.
- Home sleep tests: these tests are simplified versions of tests used in nocturnal polysomnography that are performed in your home. The tests involve measuring blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing patterns, and airflow. The tests will show drops in your oxygen level and/or decrements in airflow if you have sleep apnea.