If you are familiar with sleep apnea then you know that the problem that you have is waking up during the night due to a blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. The brain senses that the intake of oxygen has stopped and you are immediately awaken to breathe again. This could occur hundreds of times each night depending on how bad your blockage is. But how do you know how bad your sleep apnea is? The way to find out the severity of your sleep apnea is by having a sleep study where your sleep or lack of it is monitored closely. By the end of the night your AHI or apnea-hypopnea index determines your level of sleep apnea.
What is Apnea-hypopnea Index?
AHI is the number of times that your sleep and breathing is interrupted during the night. During the sleep study you are hooked up to many wires that monitor your sleep. A sleep technician in another room watches you sleep and also watches the AHI and other indexes. The AHI is actually the addition of the number of apnea, which are the total cessation of breathing and hypopnea which is the partial obstruction of breathing.
What is AHI used for?
The AHI number will be used to show how severe your sleep apnea is and it will also help determine what kind of treatment you will need. A mild sleep apnea is 5 to 15 events per hour during the evening, a moderate is 15 to 30, while a severe sleep apnea is greater than 30. By using these ranges the doctor will be able to establish the course of treatment.
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