Your doctor will check your mouth, nose, and throat for large tissues. In children who are suffering from sleep apnea, the tonsils may be enlarged. A physical exam and medical history may be all that's needed to diagnose sleep apnea in children.
Adults who have sleep apnea may have an enlarged uvula or soft palate. The uvula is the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of your mouth. The soft palate is the roof of your mouth in the back of your throat.
The best way for diagnosing sleep apnea is to conduct a sleep study. It will record what happens with your breathing while you sleep.
Your doctor might send you to a sleep center, or sleep lab, if he suspects you have sleep apnea. Here usually a polysommogram, or PSG, is done, something similar could be done at your home, using a portable monitor.
A polysommogram is the most common sleep study for diagnosing sleep apnea. This test records:
- How much oxygen there is in your blood
- How much air is moving through your nose while you breathe
- Your heart rate
- Chest movements that show whether you are making an effort to breath
A sleep specialist may use the results from a home-based sleep test to help diagnose sleep apnea. He or she also may use the results to determine whether you need a full polysommogram study in a sleep center.