Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually cannot detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition. You won’t usually notice that you have sleep apnea because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor may ask you to undergo a sleep apnea test, called polysomnography. Polysomnography electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep with various electrodes placed on the head, nostrils, chest, abdomen and limbs. These are painless. The recordings are analysed by a qualified sleep specialist to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea or another type of sleep disorder. If sleep apnea is determined, you may be asked to do further sleep testing in order to determine the best treatment option.
In some cases, your doctor may provide you with a simple test to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. This test involves measuring your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns. If you have sleep apnea, the test results will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas and subsequent rises with awakenings.