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Otolaryngolo-what? Diagnose that snore!



1-Jun-2009

Maybe you've been feeling excessively sleepy during the day. Maybe you often feel irritated and edgy. Maybe your partner's told you, "that snore's so bad - you need some help!"

If so then it's probably time to see a doctor and have your snore professionally diagnosed.

Who can diagnose my snoring?

Generally your first step should be to visit your GP - they'll ask you some questions and evaluate whether or not to refer you on to a specialist for a more thorough examination. If your GP decides that your symptons are due to snoring or sleep apneas then they'll refer you on to an Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist), who may practice as part of a sleep clinic.

Otolaryngologists are surgeons that specialise in problems with one's ears, nose, throat, head and neck. They are able to diagnose various medical conditions such as voice disorders, head/neck tumours, sleep apneas and snoring (among other things.)

Physical examination

The specialist will perform a nasendoscopy, which is the examination of your nose and nasel passages using a small camera mounted in a tube. The doctor will check for any abnormalities with your nasal cavity, mouth, tongue and throat.

The results of this examination may lead the doctor to suggest solutions such as the use of nasal strips, special dental applicances, or perhaps surgery.

Alternatively, you may need further examination by means of sleep studies in an overnight clinic.

Sleep clinics

There's a good chance you'll end up visiting a sleep clinic if no obvious physical reason can be found for your snoring and/or sleep problems. Such clinics allow doctors to examine your sleep patterns and to record a variety of measurements (such as heart rate, REM, etc.,) by connecting special monitoring equipment to you then allowing you to sleep within the clinic.

Normally a session at a sleep clinic will be done overnight and you'll be able to perform a normal day's work once you leave the clinic the next morning.

Sleep clinics have the advantage whereby the specialists are able to observe you directly while you're snoring. This is especially useful if it's found that your snoring is combined with more serious problems such as obstructive sleep apnoea.

It's up to you

If you're at all worried about your snoring, or are concerned that snoring or sleep apnoea may be the reason why you're continually tired, then take the first step - make an appointment with your GP and get your problem diagnosed.

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