Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is diagnosed a few different ways.  The most common way is for a primary care doctor to refer you to a sleep lab.  At a sleep lab, there is a board certified sleep doctor who pretty much runs the show, and this person will probably be responsible for over-seeing your sleep study.  The sleep study is how you are tested to see if you do in-fact have sleep apnea.  A sleep study is when you arrive at the sleep lab and pretty much spend the night there.  During the study, they will monitor several different things happening within your body over the course of a night.  Some important things to monitor are your oxygen levels in your blood, your heart rate, your snoring, your body position throughout the night, and a few other things related to your brain waves.  This overnight sleep lab test is by far the most common and oldest way of testing patients for obstructive sleep apnea.

There is however a different way to look for obstructive sleep apnea.  This is done through a device that a patient can wear at home on their hand.  There are several manufacturers of devices which people can wear, and they will also measure many of the things listed above(oxygen, pulse, snoring, body position etc…)  As you might have guessed, the at home sleep study is much much cheaper.  Most sleep labs have the home sleep study as an option where they will let you take the device home.  Just make sure to ask them, otherwise you will probably be told to do the in lab study(which is more expensive)

There are several different devices which are used at home for sleep studies and are covered by most insurance including Medicare.  The device names are the WatchPat and there is a new device called the ARES Sleep Testing Device from Watermark.