How Do I Know I Have Sleep Apnea?

By Laura Murphy, Story Medical Respiratory Therapist

While this is a diagnosis that will officially need to be made by a sleep specialist, there is a reliable test that provides insight on whether you might be at risk.

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) was developed in 1990 – and modified slightly in 1997 – by Australian physician Dr. Murray Johns. He developed the test so he could assess the ‘daytime sleepiness’ of his patients.  

The ESS includes eight questions and is self-administered.Respondents are asked to rate, on a 4-point scale (0-3), their usual chances of dozing off or falling asleep while engaged in eight different activities that most people engage in on a fairly regular basis like driving, watching television and more.  

The ESS score is the sum of the eight questions and can range from 0 to 24. The higher the ESS score, the higher that person’s ‘daytime sleepiness’ … and the more likely they are to suffer from sleep apnea.  

To access the ESS, simply search “Epworth Sleepiness Scale” in your internet browser. Typically, it is recommended that those with a score of 11 or higher see their primary care provider to discuss the possibility of having a sleep study done.

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