Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Do you think you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)? You’re not alone!

Take a look at some of these statistics, based on data collected by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The numbers are pretty staggering... but Oshawa CPAP Solutions is here to help make life comfortable again, and put you on the right path to corrective treatment.


An estimated  858,900 (3%) Canadian adults  18 years and older reported being told by a health professional that they have sleep apnea.


Over 1 in 4 (26%) adults reported symptoms and risk factors that are associated with a  high risk of having or developing OSA.


89% of adults with sleep apnea were overweight or obese, based on self-reported height and weight.

When you wake up in the morning, do you feel exhausted?

Does your partner complain of snoring?

Has your bed partner witnessed you stop breathing?

Some other signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):

  • You have high blood pressure
  • You’re irritable
  • You gasp or choke during sleep
  • You’re very tired (you have fatigue)
  • You’re depressed
  • You can’t concentrate
  • You have morning headaches
  • You have memory problems/memory loss
  • For men: you have impotence (difficulty keeping an erection)

Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Your family physician needs to evaluate you first if you believe you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The family physician will conduct a physical exam; review your medical and family history. Most importantly your doctor will want to know if you snore or wake during your sleep gasping for breath. It’s a good idea to ask your bed partner about your sleep.

Once the assessment is completed your family physician will decide if you need to see a sleep physician.

The Sleep Centre

Once referred to the Sleep Centre you will be assessed by a physician specializing in sleep medicine. These physicians are generally respirologists, cardiologists, psychiatrists or ears nose and throat surgeons (ENT). Other specialists may also be sleep specialists. Sleep specialists deal with an array of sleep disorders including but not limited to Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Once you are thoroughly assessed by the sleep physician a recommendation for a polysomnogram (PSG) may be made.

A PSG is performed in a Sleep Lab. The test is used to gauge how well you sleep, monitors for any problems in your sleep and your body’s response to any sleep abnormalities. Sleep studies are considered the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea. The severity of Obstructive Sleep Apnea if present can be quantified and other sleep disorders if present identified.

Polysomnogram (PSG)
A PSG is the most common sleep study for diagnosing sleep apnea. The painless test is performed in a Sleep Centre. The room looks like a normal bedroom except special monitoring equipment is applied to your face, chest, abdomen, legs and fingers. Most labs have showers available for you in the morning.

This study records your brain activity to monitor your sleep stages, your vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of oxygen in your blood. Special monitors will detect air flow through your nose and mouth while you breathe, and loosely fitting belts on your chest and abdomen will monitor your breathing efforts. A polysomnographic technologist will score your test later looking for abnormalities in your sleep. Later a sleep physician will review the results to look for the presence of sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The physician will sit down with you and develop a treatment plan.

The most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is CPAP therapy. A CPAP (Continuous Airway Positive Pressure) machine is a prescribed medical unit that provides pressurized air to the user while sleeping to prevent the airway from obstructing or collapsing.

Once you have been diagnosed with OSA by a PSG study you will require a titration study. A titration study is basically another PSG while undergoing CPAP therapy. During the titration study the polysomnographic technologist will find the idea CPAP pressure to treat your obstructive sleep apnea in different levels of sleep and different sleep positions.

The following tools can be used to screen for sleepiness and the likelihood of having moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The tools are helpful to assist you and your family physician for a preliminary evaluation of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Remember that Obstructive Sleep Apnea can only be diagnosed by a sleep physician performing a complete assessment.