SPRINGFIELD, PA – Sleep is an essential part of life. It is vital to our physical and mental health. Sleep gives our body a chance to relax, refresh and recover. But what happens when the sleep cycle is interrupted?
Since sleep problems can be the result of disorders in different body parts or systems, treatment can be managed by physicians who are specially trained in sleep medicine. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome (RLS). Sleep studies, which can be done in a lab and under certain circumstances at home, are typically used to diagnose these problems.
“Home sleep studies are designed specifically to look for sleep apnea,” says Michael Weinstein, M.D., medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “At-home testing is intended for patients who are generally healthy and are believed to have sleep apnea.” Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring then a brief silence followed by a loud snort or gasping sound. This can lead to tiredness, problems concentrating and eventually more serious health conditions.
“For at-home testing, patients are first evaluated by a sleep physician to determine if the test is necessary. If the study is needed, patients will then visit one of our Sleep Centers to get set up with the equipment,” says Asad Khan, M.D., medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Brinton Lake. Patients will sleep with the equipment at home for one night and then return it in the morning to the sleep center. The equipment is simple; just a finger probe and a belt that is worn around the chest that monitor breathing pattern, airflow, heart rate and oxygen level. In addition, patients wear a nasal cannula over the upper lip that measures airflow and senses snoring.
Crozer-Keystone’s program differs from other programs in that patients will always see a sleep specialist, according to Annmarie Gaskin, M.D., medical director of the Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center at Taylor Hospital. The sleep technicians are flexible in scheduling and will provide the equipment as well as the instructions at a time that is convenient for the patient. The equipment is simple and easy to use with only one button to push to start and stop recording. The information is then downloaded and reviewed by the sleep technicians for technical quality.
“For results that are robust and identify moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing we can move forward to treatment with AutoPAP or CPAP. AutoPAP is typically an at-home trial for the non-complicated patient. If it is a complicated patient we may do a CPAP study in the sleep lab,” Gaskin says. An AutoPAP, or auto-titrating continuous positive airway pressure machine, is a machine that helps a patient breathe by changing the pressure to treat obstructions based on the patient’s needs. A CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, is a machine that supplies constant and steady air pressure. The home study will help to determine which option is best for the patient. For home studies that come back with borderline results, the test may be repeated at home or moved to an in-lab study.
Russ Fury of Glenolden had a home sleep study assessment and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He was treated with AutoPAP. Fury’s condition was so severe that he had to sleep in a reclining chair. After treatment, Fury now can’t wait to go to bed. “My biggest issue was that I was making a good night’s sleep difficult for my wife due to my snoring,” Fury says. “What I also didn’t realize was I wasn’t getting a good night’s sleep either. I was constantly tired and taking cat naps throughout the day, thinking it was normal.”
Fury visited with a pulmonologist and was initially set up with an in-lab study, which his insurance did not cover; so his doctor suggested the home study. After completing the home study, Fury was diagnosed with sleep apnea and set up with the AutoPaP. “The treatment was simple; turn the machine on, put the mask on, go to sleep,” Fury says. He is thrilled to be sleeping soundly again, saying, “Due to your program, I now find it easier to get up in the morning. I’m not feeling tired during the day, which makes me more productive at work. As an added bonus my wife has been getting a better night’s sleep as well!”
To find out more about sleep disorders, visit www.crozerkeystone.org/sleep or call 1-888-SLEEP-03 (1-888-753-3703) for a referral to a Crozer-Keystone sleep specialist.
Photo Caption: Russ Fury, Glenolden.
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