How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed

Sleep apnea diagnosis is performed by a sleep specialist. The process begins with sleep evaluation that is accomplished by the patient’s primary doctor who then may refer the patron to the specialist that will recommend an overnight stay at a sleep center. A physical exam combined with an extensive review of the patient’s medical history completes the collection of the data needed for sleep apnea diagnosis.


The involvement of the ear, nose and throat professional along with a dentist may be recommended to gather all information necessary to make the correct diagnosis. The oral region is closely examined for enlarged or swollen tissues including the uvula, the soft piece of tissue located in the back of the throat. The palate of the mouth and the tonsils are also inspected for any unusual growths or abnormalities.


If any signs of sleep apnea are in existence or if a family member notices abnormal breathing patterns, the patient should keep a two-week sleep diary prior their first appointment with their doctor. The diary should consist of a list of hours slept, both during the day and the night. It should also include the number of naps and the rapidity of falling asleep.

The sleep apnea symptoms upon waking up should be listed in detail to help the specialist make the correct diagnoses and choose the proper treatment. It may be necessary to invite the bed partner to the appointment to obtain all available data that will then be analyzed, and the progress will be monitored until the desired results are achieved.


One of the most effective methods for sleep apnea diagnosis is PSG, a sleep evaluation study that provides sufficient amount of detailed information. It is accomplished with specially designed equipment that measures the depth of sleep, eye movement during the sleep, blood pressure and heart rate.

PSG also records the oxygen levels in the blood as well as chest movements to determine if breathing efforts are labored. This type of sleep evaluation is aimed at diagnosing the severity of the condition by attaching monitoring sensors to the various parts of the body such as scalp, chest, face and limbs.