Figuring Out If You Really Have Sleep Apnea
A very common outcome after getting a sleep study is to come back with diagnostic results that are in the very mild range. This might be numbers such as an AHI (Apnea Hypopnea Indes) of 5 or less or maybe even an AHI of 1 or two. There is often another set of numbers or actually another index that you might notice on your test results which stands for RDI (respiratory disturbance index) and this number is always going to be the same or higher than the AHI. The reason being, the RDI takes into account both apneas, hypopneas, and also upper airway resistance syndrome events per hour. So, compared to the AHI which only calculated the Apnea plus Hypopneas per hour, this new index takes into account more events. But still, everyone wants to know what is something to be concerned about, and what are test results that you don’t need to worry about.
For the overwhelming majority of people who come back with test results in the range of 5 or less for the AHI, nothing is usually done further. However, if a patient has a very low diagnostic score from the sleep study, and that same patient is very symptomatic of the common sleeping related breathing problems, something still needs to be figured out. What is the reason that the patient is so fatigued during the day for example. Why does the patient continuously complain of waking up in the middle of the night with headaches? These are still signs of sleep apnea, and need to be investigated if they are present.
The overall goal of any diagnostic test is to help patients feel better and live longer. The same is true for doctors who are trying to help patients by diagnosing sleep apnea. But, not everyone is a cut and dry OSA case. Some patients might be very mild with symptoms and with test results, and even though its so easy to do nothing, some positive changes will only help.
A great way to move your health forward if you are diagnosed with very mild sleep apnea is to think about your daily routine. If you are constantly tired in the early afternoon, or even all day for that matter, maybe some changes can be made. And maybe these changes are for your sleep? If you are one of those very common people who decides to watch the TV right before you go to sleep, that might not be the best move to be making every night. Studies show that people who watch TV before falling asleep are much more likely to have awful nights sleep on a much more regular basis. And the worst part is, that missed sleep due to having your mind racing is time you will never get back again. You actually need to catch up on your normal sleep to get back to normal now.
Talk with your pulmonologist or sleep doctor if you are a mild OSA patient. There are some creative solutions that you might find very helpful that do not involve surgery or other “minimally invasive procedures”.