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Are there more affordable ways to get a sleep study

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Are there more affordable ways to get a sleep study

Postby Juche » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:08 am

I'm guessing this has been asked before, but I am new and am curious about it.

My dad has been diagnosed as having sleep apnea. And both me and my brother show symptoms that could be apnea related (snoring, sweating in your sleep, dry mouth upon awakening, memory issues, daytime sleepiness, etc). Our symptoms are different though. I don't get daytime sleepiness, dry mouth or sweating unless I sleep on a really soft mattress. He seems to get them all the time. But I get more memory problems. We both have hypertension.

Anyway, he is in med school and going deeper into debt each year to fund it, and I am just starting my career out. I know sleep studies can cost 2k or more, are there more affordable ways to get tested for apnea?

I have heard of some at home studies that cost closer to $600 or so. Does anyone know much about which companies have them, how successful they are, how much they cost, etc? I will pay to improve my health, but if I can do something for $500 that works as well as a $2500 test I will take the former.

I have also heard some people claim that setting up a video camera at night combined with a finger pulse oximeter was enough to give strong circumstantial evidence of apnea (since your blood oxygen would decline when your breathing showed signs of change on the video). People would take those into the doctor and get a prescription for an APAP machine (instead of a CPAP). Does anyone know anything about this method of testing?
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Re: Are there more affordable ways to get a sleep study

Postby Bons » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:37 pm

If you don' have insurance, SOME doctors are willing to prescribe an apap for a limited time and set the parameters wide open to see what pressure is needed 90% or more of the time. This enables them to then set a more limited pressure for therapeutic purposes.

Using an apap that is data capable allows you to see if you are having apnea events and what pressures prevent/stop them. It is not recommended on this site that you borrow one from somebody, but perhaps you can find a sympathetic doctor to prescribe one without a sleep study.
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Re: Are there more affordable ways to get a sleep study

Postby a.b.luisi,d.m.d. » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:37 pm

Bons wrote:If you don' have insurance, SOME doctors are willing to prescribe an apap for a limited time and set the parameters wide open to see what pressure is needed 90% or more of the time. This enables them to then set a more limited pressure for therapeutic purposes.

Using an apap that is data capable allows you to see if you are having apnea events and what pressures prevent/stop them. It is not recommended on this site that you borrow one from somebody, but perhaps you can find a sympathetic doctor to prescribe one without a sleep study.

I am a dentist working in dental sleep medicine. From what I hear from my sleep physician collegues, this subject of cheaper substitutes for the traditional polysomnogram is starting to be a big bone of contention between the doctors and medical insurance companies/medicare/medicaid. Obviously, the physicians favor an attended study so that the tech can see if the patient is actually sleeping and it provides a wealth of data. However, my sense of it is that the economic issues may eventually prevail over time and the role of sleep labs may be greatly diminished, with most most people getting at-home APAP tests, etc.(under the direction of a physician, of course). Only time will tell.
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Re: Are there more affordable ways to get a sleep study

Postby truckerdad57 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:18 pm

YES!!! - there are cheaper alternative to a costly PSG or in-lab sleep study.

You want to look at a home sleep study. You can get decent one for as little as $ 250 with an intrepretation of the results on-line.

Just like anything else in shopping for a home study you need to know a little about them. Look for a home study that is an AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine ) TYPE III study. Type IV (less sophisticated than TYPE III ) home studies are really just designed to confirm you NEED to go into a sleep lab. A TYPE III study can tell if there are indications of any central apneas (your brain is forgetting to tell you to breathe). TYPE IV studies will totally miss this potential issue. Central apneas are not as common (less than 5% of people with sleep apnea have central components) but should be checked for.

You should get screened by someone knowledgable about sleep disorders to be sure you are a good candidate for a home study. There are some medical indications (doctor speak = contraindications) for a home study. For example if you are showing symptoms of narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome that a home study will not pick up. Also being on certain medications or having certain other medical conditions (COPD for example) would make a home study not a good idea.

Call local sleep labs or local board cetified sleep doctors and explain about your cost issues and ask if they do home sleep studies. If you can not find something locally go on-line and search for home sleep studies.

I work with truck drivers and know of at least two firms that market on the internet with good decent home sleep studies at reasonable prices that after screening you will ship you the home study equipment UPS. You put it on and sleep and UPS ship it back to them. The one I am thinking of will screen you for contraindications for a home study. There are firms that will just bill your credit card and ship you a home study no matter what.

If you do have sleep apnea the newer auto-titrating PAP can avoid the costs of a second sleep study to adjust pressures. As the dentist posted oral appliances are another route for treatment for some mild -moderate cases.

I assume you are not truck driver, pilot or someone in a safety sensitive position needing medical certification. If YES then there are other issues about a home sleep study.

If you can't find someone locally to do a home sleep study PM me and I can give you a couple on-line sources. (PS I will also tell you the on-line source to AVOID that I used to work for part-time).

Confirming BOS' post.. DO NOT get someone to prescribe you a used PAP and start treatment without getting a decent sleep study. The camera pulse oximeter method you suggested could make things worse. Central Apneas (where you brain forgets to tell you to breathe) or mixed (both obstructive and central components of the apnea) are a less common but realistic issues. Without a decent sleep study (either home or in-lab) to rule out that these are part of your problem just starting PAP could make things even worse. Central apneas are treated with different equipment and methods (BIPAP or ASV) than the more common form of sleep apnea obstructive sleep apnea.

If you REALLY can not afford a PAP once you have been tested and gotten a prescription there are programs to provide properly reconditioned used equipment from donated sources (usually someone's estate). The ASAA has a small program working on this. Your best option is working with a local sleep doctor or sleep lab. If you REALLY can not afford your equipment most labs and doctors have some equipment "sitting in the closet" from either repair or warramnty returns or equipment changes that can not be resold to a new patient. Don't be afraid to ask.

If the potential patient is in medical school or has contacts in the medical field check about volunteering as a training patient in a sleep medicine course or sleep technologists class. At times there is a need for volunteers to come in to a sleep lab for new techs to be trained. You never know.
(just a truck driver with sleep apnea)
Co-coordinator Truckers for a Cause Chapter of A. W. A. K. E.
awake.truckersforacause.com
Do not substitute information from here for professional medical advise.
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