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Sleep apnea testing

Sleep apnea testing

It is important to diagnose your sleep apnea early in order to prevent complications. Depending on your province, your doctor may request that you complete a sleep test in a sleep clinic or at home.

What should I do if I think I may have sleep apnea?

Start by making an appointment to see your family doctor. He or she will be familiar with sleep apnea, can assess your symptoms and will know what kind of sleep apnea test you need.

You can try a sleep apnea quiz to see if you are likely to have sleep apnea, and share your results with your family doctor at your next appointment.

You can also contact your local VitalAire clinic. Our respiratory therapists can determine your risk of having sleep apnea, and in some provinces help assess it as part of our unique sleep health program.

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Sleep clinic testing (Polysomnography)

Performing your sleep apnea test at an overnight sleep clinic is extensive and may be recommended by your doctor if your symptoms are uncertain, if you have associated chronic conditions, or if you live in certain regions.

The sleep clinic test is supervised by a qualified sleep technician who takes notes and prepares a comprehensive report of all the tested parameters at the end of the test.

An independent sleep physician will then review your results, provide a sleep apnea diagnosis, and recommend the next steps for your treatment, when necessary.

Sleep clinic testing is available in:

In Ontario and Manitoba all sleep apnea tests are done at an overnight sleep clinic. Such tests are also available in the rest of the country as needed.  

Home testing

If your symptoms clearly point to sleep apnea, your doctor may request a home sleep apnea test.

You will meet with a qualified healthcare professional who will take your relevant medical history and explain to you what sleep apnea is. You will be given a sleep apnea home test kit and shown how to use it, so you can wear it at home while you sleep.

Your sleep apnea test results will be stored on a memory card in your machine. When you return the machine the data will be downloaded - to be scored and interpreted, normally by an independent sleep physician. The physician or your primary care practitioner will usually also provide treatment recommendations for you.

The benefits of a home sleep test are that you don't have to wait long for lab space availability and that you are more comfortable sleeping in your own home. With home testing, you will still typically be diagnosed by a sleep specialist.

Home testing is available in:

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Quebec
  • Nova Scotia
  • New Brunswick
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Newfoundland
  • Saskatchewan

Comfort during testing

While at first it may seem that wearing the diagnostic equipment to bed is strange, most people find that the simple monitoring device is comfortable and they fall asleep normally.

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