The main way to find out if a person has a sleep disorder is an overnight sleep study at an AASM-Accredited Sleep Center. For those who might have severe obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep study is critical. New research suggests that these patients may soon have an alternative method of diagnosis.
At SLEEP 2011, the 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a research abstract suggested that analyzing the breathing sounds individuals make while awake could be a useful tool in discovering if a person has sleep apnea. The purpose of the research was to find a fast, easy way to diagnose a patient without an overnight sleep study.
The test patients (35 with sleep apnea, and 17 controls) were told to breathe in two different body positions: sitting up and lying down. The patients were to do this five times each. The study was able—with 84% accuracy—to separate those who had sleep apnea and those who did not have the disorder. It was also able to show the different levels of sleep apnea severity that the patients had.
These findings show potential in diagnosing sleep apnea. However, the research is a work in progress. Contact an AASM-Accredited Sleep Center if you suspect that you have a sleep related breathing disorder. Nearly a third of patients who receive a sleep study discover they have severe sleep apnea.