Like all muscles, respiratory muscles also loosen up during the sleep. Although this situation does not cause any problems for normal people, it is more noticeable for some patients because of unknown reasons; and such loosening makes respiration difficult and sleeping becomes a dangerious action.
Overweight, improper throat, nose, mouth and jaw structure makes the respiratory passage narrower and respiratory passage is closed as a result of relaxation during the sleep apnea occurs.
However, the above factors do not case respiratory arrest by themselves. It is considered that; brain centers which control breathing during sleep also plays a role in this problem although its not known exactly the reason yet.
The following examinations should be done, if obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is suspected: When you consult your doctor with the complaints above, the doctor probably would like to get get more detailed information about you from your family or friends; and if he thinks that your complaints are compatible with obstructive sleep - apnea syndrome, he would decide to send you a Sleep Disorders Center.
In Sleep disorders centers, they will examine you during a night by placing electrodes on various parts of your body. During the test called as polysomnography, your sleep and various bodily functions while you sleep are recorded all night long in a place like hotel room which is as similar as possible to your home environment and they are video recorded by relevant technicians.
The number of recorded bodily functions and the method used for recording may be different in different sleep centers. However, as a standard, electroencephalogram (EEG), electrooculogram (EOG, eyeball movements), electromyogram (EMG, muscle tension) records are recorded for distingusting sleep stages; inhailed air is recorded with small devices placed on the mouth and nose; the respiratory movements are recorded with the belts placed on chect and abdomen; oxygen level, heart rate and sleeping position is recorded with a sensor in latch form placed on finger or ear; and these recordings are obligatory.
All night long polygraphic sleep tests are evaluated by physicians in the following day and it is determined whether your snoring is dangerous; as well as informing you your respiratory arrest duration, frequency and arising pathologic findings. Sleep examination provides valuable tips for determining severity of your disease and also about how you will be treated. In some sleep testing centers, the test which continues all night long is followed by a test called as multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) in the next day. MSLT provides objective information to physicians about sleepiness of patient. During the test, patients are laid asleep for 5 times a day with 2 hour intervals and their sleeping time is calculated. Although it is known that normal people fall asleep in approximately 10-15 minutes; this time is reduced to 1-2 minutes for the patients who suffer from respiratory arrest.
It may be needed to perform ENT examination to patients who suffer from obstructive sleep – apnea syndrome after the night test; and sometimes it should be also done some respiratory function tests.