Sleep apnea is a serious condition that affects almost 20 million Americans every single year. Diagnosing and treating the problem has traditionally been inconvenient at best. In the past, those who potentially suffered from this ailment have had to make an appointment at a sleep lab and spend an uncomfortable night being watched by a sleep technician. This is all changing, however, and a new method of testing may provide relief by allowing testing from your own bedroom.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition marked by up to 30 interruptions or more in breathing per hour of sleep. Such interruptions create a lack of oxygen to the heart and brain and can be related to heart attacks, strokes and can even directly result in death. At home sleep apnea testing for these conditions is now available which is just as reliable as lab testing.
Not only are such tests reliable and convenient, they are inexpensive, costing less than half of what a lab-based sleep study does. Compared to lab testing, which costs up to $3,000, in-home tests can cost as little as $200.
Many at-home tests are covered by insurance policies. It is possible in many cases that an in-home OSA test could carry an out-of-pocket cost as low as $40, depending on the patient’s insurance co-pay.
Those candidates ideal for home testing have obvious symptoms of sleep apnea. In general, home tests are best for determining the severity of apnea rather than determining if it is present at all.
This means that patients whose apnea is not obvious, or those who have a history of other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome or other sleep-related behaviors are not good candidates. In addition, those who have cardiovascular problems or certain cognitive or physical ailments are not good candidates.
Compared to Lab Tests
When compared to lab testing, home tests are far more convenient and comfortable. Patients in lab are hooked up to a number of sensors which can number up to 20. At home, there are only four sensors, including a chest belt, a nose and mouth sensor, a finger monitor and a heartbeat sensor. In addition to being more comfortable, home testing is comparable in accuracy to lab testing.
Home testing does have its down sides. False negatives are a possibility, as are user errors. Home tests can return results that underestimate how severe the case is, especially if it is mild. Such testing will also not identify other sleep disorders.
Whenever a patient undergoes home testing and the results are problematic or inconclusive, lab testing is usually necessary. This can result in additional costs and inconvenience. Even still, for many suffering from moderate to severe OSA, a test at home is an ideal alternative to a night in a sleep clinic.
If you need additional information or have questions about in-home sleep apnea testing, we are here to help and provide answers. Give us a call today for a consultation!