At-home sleep apnea tests usually check nasal and oral airflow and respiratory effort and use an oxymeter finger probe. Users tape a thin wire by the nose and mouth and place an elastic belt band across the chest and abdomen to test the parameters. The odometer finger probe clips to a finger tip and evaluates the oxygen levels in the blood while sleeping.
Home sleeping tests are more convenient and less costly than polysomnography tests, which have to be done in laboratories. An at-home sleep apnea test costs between $150 and $500 and is usually covered by most insurance companies. An in-lab sleep apnea test can cost anywhere from $500 to $4,000, depending on the tests needed. A 2015 study relayed by the National Institutes of Health showed that at-home tests incur fewer costs than a laboratory test for payers. Insurance providers typically had to pay more for in-home testing, with a $142 margin and a loss of $161.
In order to participate in at-home testing, a patient must have most obstructive sleep apnea symptoms and have the medical necessity for a test, according to the American Sleep Association.
A patient who is participating in in-home obstructive sleep apnea testing usually has to wear the sensors for 1 to 3 nights. Then the equipment is sent to a diagnostic service who downloads the data that gets processed and interpreted by a sleep physician.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can stop breathing while sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is the most common type of sleep apnea, affecting approximately 25 million people in the U.S.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when throat muscles intermittently relax and end up blocking the airway while sleeping. Breathing may stop for anywhere between 10 and 20 seconds and lower the amount of oxygen in the blood. Usually, the brain can sense when breathing is disrupted and can momentarily wake the person to correct their breathing.
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