Apnea homes test come in two varieties: disposable sleep apnea screeners, and at-home diagnostic tests. On this page we describe what a disposable sleep apnea screener is.
The purpose of any kind of sleep study is to determine if you have episodes of apnea, how often they occur, and for what period of time. The results are expressed in terms of “AHI”, or the Apnea/Hypopnea Index.
In simple terms, the AHI translates into the frequency and duration of apnea events (in other words, how often and for how long you stop breathing while sleeping). The simplest of these studies is a home-administered device. It is a small, flat, plastic device shaped roughly like a large moustache.
The disposable sleep apnea screener affixes with a sticky back to the area between your nose and mouth. Sensors on it detect breathing patterns. There are commercial products such as the SleepStrip that are available for a reasonable price, and can give results in just a few hours or over a night’s sleep.
A small computer chip contained within the device records normal, awake patterns, as well as apnea episodes during the night. Data collected through the night is compared with normal activity, then calculated and averaged to arrive at an AHI. These relatively inexpensive devices display a scale of 0 to 3, with 3 being the most severe indication of sleep apnea. Most testing devices are available under $100.00 and may include a diagnostic report by mailing the device back to the distributor.
Instructions for using a home test are relatively simple but caution against use if cold, respiratory infection or sinus conditions exist. Opening the package just before bed turns on the device, which is powered by a tiny battery. Tabs that contain air sensors are bent into position so that intake and exhaust of air can be monitored. Driven by a computer program, sensors begin collecting baseline data immediately, and use it to compare against patterns recorded during sleep.
While this device gives a greater indication to the presences of sleep apnea than an online test for apnea, it should be considered an intermediate step in determining if you have sleep apnea. Home study devices initially required a doctor’s prescription and were meant to further clarify the need for a full sleep study.
The other kind of apnea home test is an at-home diagnostic test. Click on the link below to learn how that test works.
Next page: Apnea home test: At-home diagnostic test
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