Home sleep studies now offered to screen for apnea

Home sleep studies now offered to screen for apnea

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - When's the last time you felt like you got a really good night's sleep?  For many, restful sleep is just a dream.  That could be because of an untreated sleep disorder.

Now, there is a new screening tool that can identify your risk for one of the most common conditions, sleep apnea, in the comfort of your own bed.

Miranda Moreau of Moss Bluff is a full-time mom of two and carries a full workload outside of the home, a combination she says can leave her feeling pretty drained.

"Most days I feel exhausted like I just don't get enough sleep," she said.  "I work full-time and chasing after those kids is exhausting."

Moreau has wondered for some time if her lack of quality sleep could be caused by an undiagnosed sleep condition.

That is what brought her to Dr. Phillip Conner at the Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana in Lake Charles, where patients are now offered in home sleep studies as a first step.

"Whenever you do an initial evaluation, it can pick up people that have a high risk of apnea and be able to address them in the comfort of their own home," said Dr. Conner.

Traditional sleep studies have been done in sleep labs land Dr. Conner says those are still the gold standard, particularly for people with other known medical conditions.

"With sleep lab studies, we're monitoring the brain through EEG monitoring to be able to see what the quality of your sleep is.  Are you able to get into deep quality sleep consistently over the course of the night and then if you're not, being able to identify why that's happening," said Dr. Conner.

The home sleep study specifically screens for sleep apnea, a condition when the airway becomes unstable and oxygen levels drop.

"You are actually looking for the rise and fall of the chest during the night in order to look for respiratory effort and then we have the probe that you apply under your nose, very similar to an oxygen cannula, and what that's looking for is airflow," said Dr. Conner.

The patient also wears a pulse ox clip on the finger to measure oxygen levels.

Moreau said it was easy to use and did not interrupt her sleep.

"I was really concerned about that, but it wasn't," she said.  "I was still able to sleep on my side all night and it never slipped off or anything."

In the morning, you return the device to the center and the data is moved to the computer into report form that is shared with the patient within one week.

Those results help Dr. Conner and the staff of the Sleep Disorder Center connect patients to the best treatment plan, that typically involves a CPAP machine for those with confirmed apnea.

Moreau just completed her study this week and is waiting on her results.

"I'm very anxious to know, so hopefully I can get some good sleep," she said.

If the results are concerning, sleep lab studies are the next step.  Many insurance companies are now requiring the home sleep study first, to screen the patient before more involved testing is ordered.

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