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An overnight sleep test may be the answer in helping physicians differentiate snoring from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). For the study, the researchers examined 101 patients who came to an ear, nose, and throat clinic complaining of snoring. The physicians attempted to determine if the patients had OSA based on their medical history, an evaluation of the anatomy of their nose and throat, and a test looking for obstruction in the throat.
The patients also had to participate in a 2-night sleep test that measured snoring, body position, lung oxygen saturation, and airflow, as well as electroencephalograph brain activity. A polysomnograph recorded all the measurements. While this test is expensive, but accurate, experts said it is the "gold standard"in diagnosing sleep apnea. Lead researcher Alfred Dreher, MD, noted that polysomnography is necessary because "none of the reported medical history and/or anatomical parameters alone, or in combination, could be used to distinguish patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome from snoring patients."
The researchers concluded that patients wanting treatment for snoring "should be screened overnight using a device measuring at least oxygen saturation and airflow." (The findings were reported in the Archives of OtolaryngologyHead & Neck Surgery, February 2005.)