How to measure the severity of sleep apnea?

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) includes Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); Central sleep apnea (CSA); Nocturnal hypoventilation and Cheyne–Stokes respiration (CSR) and approximately 42 million American adults have Sleep disordered breathing (reference: Young et al. New England Journal of Medicine 1993).

I personally am one of the 42 million that have Sleep disordered breathing because I have Obstructive sleep apnea.

After learning that I had sleep apnea I began wondering what was the severity. I learned that the severity of your sleep apnea is based upon something called the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), and it’s measured based upon the number of apnea and/or hypopneas that you have per hour of sleep. To determine your own severity you can use the following index:

AHI = 0-4 Normal range

AHI = 5-14 Mild sleep apnea

AHI = 15-30 Moderate sleep apnea

AHI > 30 Severe sleep apnea

It’s normal to have a high AHI on the report from your sleep study because the prupose of the study is to determing your severity so that it can be treated. So if you have a high AHI in your sleep study there is nothing to worry about.

However if you are using a cpap machine every night for treatment then your AHI should be under control. Based on the above index and the reports that I get from my CPAP machine my persoanl severity for the AHI is normal because most nights my AHI is less than 1.

It’s important to review your personal statistics from the CPAP machine that you sleep with every night.  If the report is showing a high AHI then you need to speak with your health care provider.

If your AHI is too high then you may not be getting the best sleep and you are putting your health at risk along with the health of others if you are too tired to drive a car due to a high AHI. This is why you owe it to yourself to get your machine working properly so that your AHI is at a low level. Speak with your doctor if you see a high AHI in your reports.

Driving with untreated sleep apnea is a losing game