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How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

While there are a number of obvious symptoms, Obstructive Sleep Apnea suffers typically experience: loud & excessive snoring, high blood pressure, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, pauses in breathing during sleep, waking up gasping for breath and weight gain. There really is only one way to definitely diagnose sleep apnea which taking an overnight sleep study.

An overnight sleep study is a comprehensive recording of the bio-physiological changes that occur during sleep. The polysomnogram, or PSG, is typically performed at night in a hospital or sleep lab facility, or due to advances in technology patients may now opt to have one at home. A PSG typically monitors a between five and twelve body functions including brain wave activity, eye movements, muscle activity/tension, heart rhythm, achievement of various sleep stages, oral & nasal airflow and respiratory effort/efficiency during sleep.

In-Home Sleep Apnea Study

In most cases a patient can opt for an insurance-paid in-home sleep apnea study. While not able to diagnose as many rare, sleep-related conditions as an in-lab study, a home sleep study does usually provide a more accurate representation of a patient’s actual sleep patterns. The in-home sleep apnea study is covered by most insurance plans and has a low deductible and allows the patient to sleep in their own bed. No technician is required to be in their home for set-up and studies can be scheduled within days not weeks of being ordered. The system provides patients easy step-by-step instructions and voice prompted commands and a single start/stop button functionality. The patient receives the full benefits of a sleep study in the convenience and safety of their own home. The home study unit is shipped directly to the patient and the sleep study is conducted. When completed, the patient simply returns the unit in the provided postage paid package. The results are then interpreted by a board certified sleep physician who also recommends a treatment program. This information is then made available to the patient through a consultation with their doctor.

In-Lab Sleep Apnea Study

For an in-lab sleep apnea study, a patient travels to a hospital or sleep lab facility where they are met by a technician who prepares the patient for the PSG. The patient is then connected to the polysomnography equipment by as many as 16 electrodes, a pressure transducer, and/or a thermocouple which are used to monitor various body, brain and respiratory functions. The patient then is asked to relax and fall asleep as usual while the technician oversees the study and ensures that the electrodes remain connected throughout the night. The technician is located in a nearby observation room and is available to assist the patient if needed.

Split Study

If sleep apnea is suspected, many insurers will require the patient to complete a split study. The split study is just that, during the first part of the night a patient receives a PSG, immediately followed by a second study, called a titration study. To minimize the patient's inconvenience and time away from home, the titration study is undertaken by hooking the patient up to a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. Then the sleep technician can regulate the proper airway pressure to find the optimal setting to maximize the patient's comfort and therapeutic effect. The sleep study results and titration is then interpreted by a sleep physician and made available to you by a doctor.