Patients are commonly diagnosed with sleep apnea following when a sleep disorder specialist obtains a medical history and perform a physical exam. Affected patients commonly complain of habitual snoring and an inability to get quality sleep. They also have larger neck sizes and a smaller upper respiratory airway. Individuals suspected to have the disorder typically undergo a sleep study. However, recent research reveals that specific blood tests may hasten diagnosis and treatment.
The research involved 264 male adults from various locations. Blood samples were taken from each of the men and tested for various levels that included C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1c and erythropoietin. Elevations in C-reactive protein, erythropoietin and hemoglobin A1c correlated with the presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea. The lack of oxygen caused by apnea naturally increases erythropoietin levels.
The findings reveal that blood testing proved superior to traditional methods used for sleep apnea screening. The biomarkers also revealed that patients suffering from the disorder may or may not have symptoms. The blood tests were more accurate than body mass index determination, as half of all people suffering from sleep apnea are not overweight. By making blood tests part of the diagnostic regimen, sleep specialists may be better able to diagnose and treat patients based on the severity of the disorder.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
Treatment methods are designed to ensure that the airway remains open when an affected individual sleeps. The proper mode of treatment eliminates symptoms and reduces the possibility of developing any of the medical conditions that may occur. Sleep specialists may prescribe a variety of therapies based on the severity of the disorder.
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP remains one of the more effective treatment options. The therapy involves wearing a CPAP mask, which is connected to tubing and a device that continually blows air into the passages.
Some apnea sufferers may be advised to change their sleep position. Sleeping on one side or the other helps keep the airway open during sleep. However, the tactic is not always effective.
An obese patient diagnosed with sleep apnea is often told to lose weight through changes in diet combined with an increase in physical activity. However, not all patients are able to maintain the weight loss.
Avoiding alcohol or medications designed to induce sleep are commonly discouraged. The substances may cause an excess of muscular relaxation, which leads to the obstruction.