MySleepApnea.Org

Archive for August 2008

Some sleep disorders can be diagnosed during a routine exam and a conversation with a sleep specialist. But if you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea a further examination may be requested.

It use to be that you had to travel to an actual ‘lab’/hospital. Most of the time they are hours away, booked for months at a time, and a big inconenience. Some people may have a disability, or dependents, or a job that makes a night in a lab too difficult. Now, finally with our latest technology, cases like these have been answered with: The Home Sleep Test (HST).

There are many home test kits available on the market today. But, none of them record all of the full vital signs that a complete in-lab study would, for other sleep disorders -eye and limb movements that might be related with a neurological disorder, for example. The increasing evidence, however, shows they are highly effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. A home sleep test will collect this kind of information though to be symptoms of OSA:

  • Airflow
  • Breathing efforts
  • Blood oxygen
  • Snoring vibrations/density
  • Head and neck movements
  • Calculated cessations/stops in breathing

With the new acceptance of home testing growing in the sleep community: in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revised their policy and now endorses the use of portable monitoring for a specific group of people. Now, many insurance plans are starting to cover home tests for eligible patients. Many providers of home sleep testing, have an on-site doctor or therapist who will help you with obtaining a home sleep test, if you have difficulties with your insurance plan (we do 😉 )

So…who’s eligible?

The following points are taken into consideration when determining eligibility:

  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age. Home sleep test haven’t been recommended for children or older adults.
  • You have no other major medical problens; such as pulmonary disease (ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease)
  • Patients suspected of having no co-morbid sleep disorder other than OSA.
  • To monitor response to non-CPAP treatments after the dianosis has already been made.

Other medical problems can affect your results, including lung disease, neuromuscular disease, and congestive heart failure, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out any possible infracions that may effect your testing.

You also maybe eligible for a Home Sleep test if health or safety concerns prevent you from being able to leave home for a night. The Home Sleep test may be used to evaluate your response to some sleep apnea treatments, such a titration pressure, and weather you’re a nasal breather or a mouth breather.

A Home Sleep test can and will make things much more clear if you feel that your just not getting a good nights sleep, or if your partner complains about your snoring and even if you’ve ever nodded off while driving. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace and ease of knowing that you’ll be save and yourself a complete and whole night of sleep, waking feeling refreshed! 🙂

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Sleep disorders can be hard to identify, especially if their symptoms occure while you’re asleep. Amy Petrik, 40, spent three months and visited four doctors searching for the cause of her persistent laryngitis. Once she was diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea, she got back her voice -and reclaimed her health.

 It was about four years ago that I first began to wonder what exactly was wrong with me. I hadn’t felt well in quite some time, and my normally upbeat personality was dragging to the point where other people had started to notice.

I had memory problems, severe mood swings, and anxiety issues. I woke up every morning with headaches and a dry, swollen throat, and was getting up to use the bathroom several times a night.

I felt unhealthy and unhappy, but I work two jobs, so I just assumed I was overly tired. My days were filled with four-hour naps, and still occasionally nodded off. I mentioned my complaints to a few different doctors, but no one seemed to take them too seriously; even my elevated blood pressure and cholesterol level didn’t set off any alarms. And so I attributed it all to a mix of mild depression and extreme fatigue. (Only later did a sleep specailist tell me that depression, weight gain, and fatigue are all symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.)

A wake-up call to get help
In early February, I lost my voice for three full weeks. I mean literally: Not like laryngitis or just a sore throat, but I actually couldn’t make any sound but squeaks. I was terrified. My family physician was on vacation, so I saw another doctor in his practice. She whipped me into her office and within minutes took my vitals and diagnosed my with strep throat. I tried whispering to her what was going on, but she didn’t pay too much attention to my concerns. Without even giving me any test, she prescribed some medication and told me to come back in a week if I didn’ t improve.

I was back in seven days. The doctor claimed she didn’t have time to see me (my regular physician was still out), but I complanied enough by writing notes back and forth to the nurse on duty and was finally allowed  back into an exam room. I again explained, through writing, that my throat had not improved and that I needed help. Her only solutions? Hot tea with honey and vitamin C.

At this point I turned to an ear, nose, and throat specialist at the advice of some friends. He immediately saw the warning signs that everyone else had missed and scheduled me for a sleep study.

A sleep test and a scary diagnosis
I went to the sleep lab in early April. Afterward my ENT told me that I had the most danerous case of sleep apnea he had ever seen: He told me that I stopped breathing 120 times per hour, I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my lungs, and my cardiovascular system was steadily wearing dow. It was mind-blowing. I can only remember sitting in his office crying uncontrollably, my mom doing all the talking.

It sounds overdramatic, but I knew I was going down the same path my father had taken: He was overweight the majority of his life, had high blood pressure, and all kinds of medical problems, including untreated sleep apnea. He passed away at 67, and I was afraid I’d end up just like him, gone too soon, if I didn’t get assistance right away.

Slow but steady treatment
The doctor told me that I had to lose a significant amount of weight to cure my sleep apnea, either that, or get a tracheotomy. Of course I didn’t want a hole in my throat, but I was looking for any help I could get: Losing weight seemed impossible, since I was exhausted all the time. One other option, although my doctor warned me that results may be minimal, was to remove my tonsils and adenoids. I had the surgery later that month, followed by another sleep study. I was disappointed: The setting for my CPAP machine went from 13 (the hightest possible pressure) just down to 11.

As a naturally clasustrophobic person, learning to use the CPAP machine has been difficult. The first night I took it home, I made my mom stay overnight because I was so terrified to sleep with it. I had to try three different types before I found one -a small nasal mask -that I can actually tolerate. Even then it took me sometime to get comfortable with.

Now, I swear by my CPAP machine. I actually tell people that it’s time for me to go home to bed so that I can breathe in fresh air all night long! It has become a regular part of my bedtime ritual, and I don’t go anywhere without it. Until I am given the green light that I no longer need to wear this lifesaving device, it will always be with me.

Still room for improvement
My sleep patterns have improved, and I no longer have to take naps to play catch up in the afternoons. I don’t have sore throats in the morning. My blood pressure is back in the healthy range, and I’ve joined Weight Watchers and am finally starting to shed some pounds. I’m feeling a lot better, health-wise.

Getting the word out
I’ve become a spokesperson for my family and friends, letting others know about what can happen if you do not get treated. I’m sure some of my loved one also have sleep apnea, and some them tell me they’re just scared to hear the results. That’s pretty frustrating to hear, considering how much I suffered before I was diagnosed and how much better I feel now.

I try to tell people, please stop what you are doing and make an appointment today! If you are afraid of doctors, don’t be. If your afrais to go to the sleep lab, take along a friend, your mom, your wife or husband, or just take along something comforting to have by your side. This is your life we are talking about, and I promise you, you will not regret it.

-Amy Petrik
Recovering Sleep Apnea Patient.


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