1. Physical exam
A regular routine check up by a physician can reveal the cause of snoring. The examination should include assessing the upper airway, measurement of the circumference of the neck, as well as carefully examining the inside of the nose, mouth, and throat. The doctor checks for any blockages in the nasal passage, obstructions that hold up the air to pass through the nose and, whether the neck and throat size is adequate for regular breathing to take place.
This test is done to find out many functions of the body when a patient is asleep. These include brain activity, levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood, rate and rhythm of heart, flow of air through mouth and with the help of chest and belly movements.The test requires a patient to stay overnight at a sleep center where an in-depth analysis of sleep habits is carried out by a team of specialists. Sensors are placed on your head and various other body parts. Polysomnography records the brain waves, heart rate, breathing rate, blood and oxygen level, as well as eye and leg movements. This is a completely non-invasive test wherein a patient can go home as soon as the test is over.
3. Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)
This test is done to find out how frequently you sleep in a day, and finds out whether you have entered REM sleep. The test is conducted after polysomnography has been done on a patient a night before. The test procedure is composed of four to five ‘naps’ which last 20 minutes each with a gap of two hours. The patient is instructed to try falling asleep in a lab created setting for sleep. Then the average time taken for the patient to fall asleep is calculated for all four or five tests. Anything greater than ten minutes needed to fall asleep is considered normal whereas falling asleep in less than five minutes is regarded as excessive sleepiness. No special measures are required on the part of the patient for this test, regular comfortable clothing and attire are sufficient.
4. Wakefulness test (MWT)
This is another test that also measures daytime sleepiness. But in this test, a patient is instructed to stay awake in a lab created sleep atmosphere. This test is conducted for four 40-minute sessions with a gap of two hours. The strongest measure of this test would be not falling asleep which would indicate absence of daytime sleepiness in a patient. The test is useful for companies wanting to figure out whether their employees are sleeping at work, airline pilots and truck drivers who also experience daytime sleepiness. No special arrangements are required, the patient can go for the test in regular clothing.
Imaging tests like X-ray, Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can also check the structure of your airway for sleep related problems, such as a deviated septum. A CT scan assesses the upper airway passages in patients with disturbed breathing activity during sleep. MRI, on the other hand, can find out obstruction of upper airway in awake and asleep patients. A patient is required to lie on a screener bed attached to a monitor that shows pictures of internal organs and related deformities.
6. Nasal decongestant test
This non-invasive and uncomplicated test is performed by inserting a few drops of a topical nasal decongestant in the patient’s nostrils. This is done on alternate nights over a period of 1 week and then the results are compared for the whole week. If the results show improvement in snoring, it may be worth treating the problem with the decongestant itself. The test can be performed by an ENT specialist or learnt from the doctor to be performed at home.
The test is usually conducted for patients working shifts, having sleep disorders or problems with the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm). The patient is required to wear a watch like device on his wrist that measures bodily movements during sleep as well as during wakefulness. It helps a specialist know what times during the day the patient is active and at what times he/she is sleeping. Any abnormality in the sleeping pattern is recorded by the watch and preserved for further treatment. The test can be conducted at a sleep center or at home by making the required settings to the watch.
8. Sleep nasendoscopy
This test evaluates the site of snoring. In this test, the patient is sedated with propofol to a level of sleep which is sufficient to induce snoring. The patient is required to lie in the supine position so that the operator can examine the upper aero-digestive tract with a flexible nasendoscope to determine the levels of obstruction. The exact origin of snoring can be found out with this test. 10-12 hours fasting and lying in a specific position are some pointers a patient should keep in mind for this test.
9. Allergy tests
Allergies of the respiratory tract like from pollen grains, animal hair, dust and polluted air can be determined by a series of blood tests. A RAST blood test or skin allergy tests can identify specific allergens for allergic rhinitis. Allergies already present in the body also cause breathing obstruction, especially during night which eventually lead to snoring. These blood tests can be done at a doctor’s office or any well equipped pathological lab. 10-12 hours of fasting is required prior to this test.