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What is a Sleep Apnea Center?

Article Details
  • Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A sleep apnea center is a sleep disorder center that offers testing and treatment for sleep apnea. Although it may be possible to find centers that focus exclusively on sleep apnea, the majority of sleep centers usually screen for sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and most other sleep-related disorders. When individuals notice gaps in breathing when asleep or began experiencing common side effects of sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness, a visit to a sleep center may be necessary for further evaluation.

The goal of a sleep apnea center is to create a relaxing atmosphere that stimulates the normal home environment of the patient so they can quickly drop off to sleep. To achieve this objective, centers usually provide each patient with a spacious, private room so they can relax. These rooms often include many of the typical amenities that would be found at home, including a comfortable mattress, a TV and a DVD player.

Part of what sets a sleep apnea center apart from other facilities is the knowledge of the staff. Sleep centers are associated with medical facilities and universities or may be privately owned. These centers tend to feature board-certified sleep specialists. Psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists, pulmonologists and other medical experts are also likely on hand to provide a comprehensive evaluation.

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Before this evaluation can be done, however, an appointment will have to be made. Some centers allow patients to contact the center directly to schedule an evaluation. A number of insurance companies, however, require a physician to make a referral. In some cases, the insurance provider may specify a specific sleep apnea center for the evaluation or require pre-authorization before the test can be completed. In either situation, a patient will usually be evaluated by reviewing their medical history and confirming that they suffer from some of the common symptoms of sleep apnea.

At the sleep apnea center, diagnostic testing will be completed to check for a sleep disorder. The standard diagnostic test used is an overnight test called a Polysomnogram (PSG). This noninvasive and painless test requires the patient to be hooked up to various electrodes that record a number of bodily functions, including heart rate, brain waves, airflow and rapid eye movement. To detect sleep apnea and snoring, a microphone is placed around the neck. Straps placed over the chest, monitor how the muscles move as the patient breathes in and out to detect pauses in breath. Generally, the sleep technician will attach the testing equipment, then monitor the situation via intercom from a control room.

After the test, a sleep physician will review the results. If sleep apnea is suspected or confirmed, other diagnostic tests may also be performed. One treatment that the sleep apnea center is likely to recommend is a fitting for a Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine, known as a CPAP titration test. A CPAP machine consists of a nasal mask and air compressor that forces a steady amount of air into the airway to prevent pauses in breathing while asleep. The test is similar to a PSG, but the patient wears a nasal mask during the sleep test. To help patients get the optimum level of air pressure for their unique breathing needs, the observing technician will adjust the pressurized air until the machine successfully stops or limits gaps in breathing.

When untreated, sleep apnea can cause serious health-related issues, including an increased risk of heart attack or high blood pressure. By staying overnight at a sleep apnea center, an individual struggling with poor sleeping habits can find out conclusively that they are suffering from sleep apnea and learn which type of sleep apnea they are dealing with. This knowledge can be used to develop an effective treatment plan and improve quality of life.

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