Can a primary care doctor tell you definitely don't have sleep apnea without going to a sleep study? (Photo)

Doctor Answers 6

No doctor can diagnose Sleep Apnea without a study

I agree with my brilliant colleagues, Lance and Ira who have already answered this question. The ONLY way to diagnose Sleep Apnea is with an overnight in-lab sleep test, known as a PSG, or with a home sleep test done in the comfort of your own bed, known as an HST. Either one of these tests can be ordered by your physician or by a qualified dentist that knows what he is doing!

Study is the ONLY way to know

NO doctor, from a primary care physician to a sleep specialist, can diagnose from an exam or interview.  There is absolutely NO way to know if apnea is an issue without a sleep study of SOME sort.  Home sleep tests are VERY accurate, but not as comprehensive as a polysomnogram (test normally done in a hospital setting).  No questionnaire or clinical observation while awake can determine if a person does or does not have this condition.  If you have someone telling you otherwise, you need to ignore them.

Sleep apnea diagnosis

Your doctor can give you questioners to evaluate your sleepiness and tiredness. I think it is not possible to fully diagnose without a sleep study. 

Majid Jamali, DMD
New York Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Sleep Study

Nobody can tell you you "definitely" don't have sleep apnea without a sleep study.  The decision to obtain a sleep study is usually based on a number of factors including symptoms (daytime hypersomnolence, fatigue, feeling of nonrestorative sleep, morning headache, grinding of teeth, hypertension), exam of the nose and throat for factors making you at a higher risk for sleep apnea (nasal blockage such as a deviated septum, small jaw, big tongue, long palate), and questionnaires such as a STOP BANG and Epworth Sleepiness Scale.  If your doctor has not evaluated you by asking these questions, it may not be a complete exam and you should consider evaluation by a sleep medicine specialist such as an otolaryngologist.  A sleep study (either home or sleep-lab in a facility) would be required to diagnose the presence or absence of sleep apnea.

Daniel J. Givens, MD
Dubuque Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Do I need a sleep study?

A sleep study is the basis for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. Using a home sleep study as a screening tool is another modality for diagnosing OSA. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Sleep Apnea: Diagnose by symptoms and sleep study

There are various methods to evaluate sleep by questionaires but only a sleep study give objective quantifiable data.

I strongly Rx a sleep study if there is any concerns related to sleep.

Ira L Shapira DDS
Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine
Diplomat, American Academy of Pain Management
Fellow and Regent, International College of CranioMandibular Orthopedics
Chair, American Alliance of TMD Organizations
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.