“An estimated 5.4 million Canadian adults have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or are at high risk of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea.” – Canadian Respiratory Journal
While snoring is an ongoing joke in day-to-day life and popular culture, sleep apnea isn’t. But since snoring is a primary symptom of this often-overlooked sleep disorder, and snoring is accepted as an unalterable fact of life, many Canadians live undiagnosed with sleep apnea. Add obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes to the mix, and the seemingly benign snoring becomes a whole lot more dangerous – not to mention that these health conditions, along with women’s unique sleep apnea symptoms, can cloud the underlying condition and result in a misdiagnosis.
What happens when sleep apnea is left untreated?
The Greek word, apnea, translates as “without breath.” Simply put, sleep apnea interferes with your breathing and since our brains and bodies need oxygen to live, even momentary lapses in breathing can severely impact our health. When left untreated, then, sleep apnea has dangerous consequences:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Depression and anxiety
- Car accidents (from falling asleep at the wheel)
- Personal and professional consequences
- Premature death
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
We don’t randomly test people for sleep apnea; diagnosis begins with recognizing the symptoms and talking to your doctor. Classic sleep apnea symptoms include snoring, daytime sleepiness, momentary lapses in breathing while asleep, gasping awake at night, insomnia, memory and concentration difficulties, impotence, chronic fatigue, and mood changes and depression.
However, you don’t have to display classic symptoms to have sleep apnea, especially if you’re a woman. Often the symptoms women experience can seem like other issues altogether: restless leg syndrome, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, morning headaches, nightmares and night terrors, palpitations, and generally waking up feeling unwell.
You might be hesitant to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea, due to the variant nature of its symptoms, so we’ve developed our sleep quiz based on scientific screening questionnaires created by physicians: the Berlin Questionnaire and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Our sleep quiz scores your answers on a scale ranging from no sleep apnea to serious risk to give you a definitive risk level to take to your doctor. You can print off our physician referral form and take it with you to doctor’s appointment. Once you’ve got your referral, book an appointment with us for your sleep study.
What is a sleep study and how does it work?
A sleep study (or test) measures a person’s breathing during sleep including detailed information about how many breaths are taken, the quality or depth of each breath, presence of snoring, chest expansion, heart rate and blood oxygen level. Analysis of these measurements determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea and its severity. If you do have it, a sleep test helps us create a personalized treatment plan just for you.
During your first appointment, you’ll meet with a respiratory therapist or a registered nurse who will discuss your symptoms with you and review your referral form or sleep quiz to ensure you’ve been properly prescreened.
Our staff shows you how to use the sleep recorder, which you will take home with you for two nights, so you can test your sleep in the comfort of your own bed. For the next two nights, you’ll sleep wearing the sleep recorder so we can collect enough data to validate and diagnose your symptoms.
When you return the machine, our clinician will download, save, and verify the data and we’ll send it to an independentrespirologist who will evaluate and interpret the study data, send us your results and diagnosis along with a recommended sleep apnea treatment plan.
We’ll contact you to discuss your results in addition to sending them to your doctor. If you’re prescribed CPAP treatment for sleep apnea, we’ll discuss your care plan with you.
At Provincial Sleep Group, we’re focused on you.
We want to help you get the best sleep possible while improving your overall health. Think you might have sleep apnea? Take our sleep quiz to determine your risk.