Many people have heard of sleep apnea or maybe their doctor has even mentioned they are at risk, but they want to know more before testing.  Millennium Sleep Lab has been testing patients for sleep apnea in the comfort of their own homes for almost ten years.  We have compiled of a list of questions we often hear from our patients.

If I just snore, do I need to test?

Snoring and OSA are similar respiratory sleep conditions.  The noise produced when snoring occurs when the air you breathe vibrates the tissues of the airway because of a blockage or narrowing of the nose, mouth or throat. It can be an indicator of the more serious Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which is when breathing stops or is slowed for 10 seconds or longer because of the blocked or narrowed airways. Airway blockage may be caused by excess tissue in the throat or nasal passages, large tonsils, enlarged tongue and sometimes the jaw structure itself.  The best way to tell if the snoring has progressed to OSA is with a home sleep test (HST).  

If I’m not obese, can I still have sleep apnea?

While Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more common in people with a high BMI, there are many causes of sleep apnea including shape of the nasal passage, size of the tongue, even just muscle atrophy with age.  Sleep apnea is common in the elderly even with normal BMI.   There is also a disorder called Central Sleep Apnea where breathing pauses because the brain doesn’t signal the chest muscles to breathe.

You should look for all symptoms of sleep apnea, including: daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, frequent urination at night, depression or irritability, and bruxism (teeth grinding). Take a questionnaire

How can I test at home by myself?

Millennium Sleep Lab can mail you a small, easy to use testing device at home.  Our patient educator will call you the night you receive the device and assist you in putting it on by phone.  We also have step by step instructions and videos available on our website.

The sleep testing devices only have 2 to 3 sensors to put on: clip or cuff on your finger, chest sensor (elastic belt or patch), and sometimes a small plastic cannula tube in your nose.  From those few sensors, our sleep physicians can diagnose obstructive or central sleep apnea. 

How much will it cost?

Many insurance carriers provide coverage for the home sleep test (HST) because of the cost savings over the in-lab test. Traditional in-lab studies are $2,000 to $4,000 per night, but the average cost of a HST is $375 per test, depending on the rate set by your insurance.  If your deductible is met, you will only pay a portion of the cost.

Will I have to wear a mask on my face or something called a CPAP?

During the home sleep test you will wear a small plastic cannula in your nose (similar to one worn to receive oxygen), but not a mask.  

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your physician may order a CPAP device to push air into your airway during sleep to hold the airway open.  CPAP do connect to a mask however, there are several style now, some which are very small and sit under the nose.  Your physicians may also recommend an oral appliance, which is a mouthpiece made by a dentist that is worn at night to hold the airway open.

Do I have to see my doctor first for a referral?

Insurance companies require that a physician order (similar to referral) a home sleep test for them cover and pay for the test.  If you have discussed sleep apnea with your medical provider in the past, you may be able to contact the office and have them send an order form.  You can also schedule a telemedicine visit with one of Millennium’s Sleep Physicians who can review your symptoms and order the test.

What could happen if I have sleep apnea but don’t test or treat it?

People with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease including atrial fibrillation. They are at higher risk of a stroke and developing diabetes.  They often experience sexual dysfunction along with general fatigue and reduced cognitive ability.  

Don’t put off testing any longer.  Millennium Sleep Lab can schedule a test or telemedicine visit for you without even leaving your home.