Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea is important because the condition may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. For those with symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor may order a test called polysomnography. During this test, patients are connected to sensors that record a variety of body functions during sleep such as pulse rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and EEG activity.
Treatment for sleep apnea varies, depending on medical history, physical examination and polysomnography results. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). In this treatment, patients wear a mask over the nose during sleep, to force slight air pressure from a compressor through the nasal passages. The air pressure is adjusted so it is just enough to prevent the throat from collapsing during sleep.
Some people with sleep apnea may need surgery. Several surgical procedures can be used to increase the size of the airway. This may include the correction of structural deformities or the removal of:
- Adenoids and tonsils (especially in children)
- Nasal polyps (noncancerous tumors) or other growths
- Excess tissue in the airway
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