Can sleep apnea be diagnosed and assessed in the comfort of your own home?

The simple answer is “yes, it can.”

An array of methods exist for self-diagnosing sleep apnea, including:

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea At HomeSelf-Assessment Questionnaire

This will be easier with your sleeping partner’s assistance – as your bed partner will undoubtedly be more aware of your sleeping habits than you! Your GP can help you to obtain the questionnaire.

The following are some examples of questions, just to give you an indication of what might be asked:

  • Does your sleeping partner protest about your snoring on a regular basis?
  • Do you find yourself waking up due to your snoring?
  • Do you discover yourself falling asleep throughout the daytime?
  • When you wake in the morning, do you have a sore or dry throat?
  • Are you tired most of the time?
  • Is your snoring generally very loud?
  • Have either you or your partner noticed you choking or gasping when asleep?

As you can see, the questions are simple, and what you don’t know yourself, your partner probably will. If you’re on your own, then along with answering the questions you know the answers to, it might be recommended that you undergo a polysomnography (also called a sleep study, discussed in detail a little later in this section). This will let the medical experts ascertain the severity of your sleep apnea.

The Snoring Severity Scale

This scale was created as an easy screening test. The scale separates sleep apnea sufferers into two groups: high- and low-risk categories.

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The scale is built around three questions. The points to give yourself for each question are on the left in brackets.

  1.  How often do you snore?
  • (3) Every night
  • (2) Most nights (greater than 50%)
  • (1) Some nights(less than 50%)
  • (0) Very rarely or not at all

2.  How long do you snore?

  • (3) All night
  • (2) Most of the night (greater than 50%)
  • (1) Some of the night(less than 50%)
  • (0) Hardly or not at all

3. How audible is your snoring?

  • (3) Can be heard down the hall
  • (2) Can be heard in the next room
  • (1) Can be heard in the same room
  • (0) Barely audible

Your GP will be able to count your score and ascertain your sleep apnea level for you – or if you wish you can do this yourself. Count your scores up and if you have a 4 or less you fall into the low-risk category. If you score 5 or above you fall into the high risk category. If you’re in the higher risk group, then visit your GP with the results of your test (and/or follow the instructions in this book to investigate a treatment option).

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale

Another useful exercise to complete is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Developed by Dr. Murray Johns in 1990, the scale was created to measure daytime sleepiness in patients with sleep disorders. The test is a questionnaire with eight questions.

Patients are asked to rate their chance of daytime dozing while in common situations. The higher the score, the higher the level of their daytime sleepiness.  Scores less than 12 are perfectly normal. Scores of 14 or more indicate sleep apnea – at a moderate to severe level.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale asks the simple question, “How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling just tired?”, and provides you with a range of situations.

Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each given situation:

  • 0 = Would never doze
  • 1 = Slight chance of dozing
  • 2 = Moderate chance of dozing
  • 3 = High chance of dozing

Situations

Sitting and reading

Watching TV

Sitting, inactive in a public place (theatre, meeting)

As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break

Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit

Sitting and talking to someone

Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol

In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in the traffic

If you follow this link you’ll also find an online version of the Epworth Sleepiness Test: Online Epworth Sleepiness Test

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