Sleep apnea is a potentially deadly condition that is made more serious by the fact that most people with the condition remain undiagnosed. The standard test for sleep apnea is a polysomnography, performed in a sleep lab.
Unfortunately, the polysomnography represents a significant barrier that keeps some people from getting a sleep apnea diagnosis. But for these people, a home sleep test is a much more accessible diagnostic option.
However, we have to make sure that people are being tested appropriately for the condition. Accurate diagnosis is critical to getting proper treatment for your sleep apnea. To ensure this, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has issued guidelines for home sleep apnea testing (HSAT).
The AASM made its position clear that:
- Only doctors can diagnose sleep apnea, a medical condition
- Doctors have to evaluate someone before recommending an HSAT
- Only doctors can recommend an HSAT
- HSATs are not screening tools, and should not be used as such
- Automatically scored HSAT data cannot be used to diagnose sleep apnea, assess treatment efficacy, or make decisions about sleep apnea treatment
- HSAT data should be reviewed by a board-certified sleep physician
The goal of these guidelines is really twofold. It is, of course, designed to ensure patients are getting the best care when their care is based on HSAT. However, there is also a little bit of institutional protectionism. Sleep doctors are trying to protect their revenue by recommending that every sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment evaluation be overseen by a sleep doctor.
Is a Home Sleep Apnea Test Right for You?
What’s missing from these guidelines is a more general assertion of which patients are likely to benefit most from a home sleep apnea test. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, either because you snore or because you experience daytime sleepiness or other symptoms, you might want a home test for sleep apnea. In order to qualify for a home sleep test, you must meet certain criteria.
First, you cannot currently have a sleep disorder. If you have a sleep disorder besides sleep apnea, you are not a good candidate for a home sleep apnea test. You are also not a good candidate if you have other medical conditions that might interfere with the results of the sleep test–in a sleep lab they can take more precise measurements to tease out the effects of different conditions. A sleep lab is also more likely to be able to diagnose marginal or intermittent sleep apnea cases, so they might be good if you think you have only mild sleep apnea.
Home tests are good for people who have difficulty sleeping in an unfamiliar environment, have mobility challenges, or are looking to evaluate their current sleep apnea treatment but don’t want to make another trip to the lab.
If you want to learn more about your options for sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment in River Edge, NJ, please call (201) 343-4044 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.