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When is a Second Sleep Study Necessary?

Posted On February 24, 2014
February 24, 2014

For years, you made do with a couple of hours a sleep a night. In addition, you snored like a banshee. The tipping point of seeking out a diagnosis and treatment for your sleep problem was when you fell asleep babysitting your infant grandchild. Nothing bad happened, but it could have. And thus, the very next day you made an appointment with your physician who ordered a sleep study (or polysomnogram). Now, years later, you are back in the same rut: not sleeping well and snoring even louder than before. Granted your grandchild is now in second grade and no longer needs to be watched like a hawk. But that’s not the issue. What should you do? When is a second sleep study necessary?

Sleep studies are conducted to find out whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or any other sleep disorder. OSA is characterized by sleep that is interrupted due to an obstruction, which hampers proper breathing. When a sleep study is performed, the data captures oxygen blood levels, air flow through your nose as you breathe, snoring level and chest movement. If your sleep issue is complex, a study will need to analyze brain activity, eye movement, blood pressure and heart rate.

In the past, the sleep studies were exclusively performed at a hospital but today free-standing sleep labs are another option along with home sleep study testing. A study at a sleep lab might take one overnight stay. With a home sleep study, you have a portable monitor that your physician will order and still need to pick up from his or her office as well as learn how to operate.

Second Sleep Study

The key number that a sleep study will determine is apnea-hypopnea index (AHI)—the number of instances whereby breathing has stopped during the span of an hour—a measurement that can widely vary. AHI is used to diagnose the severity of sleep apnea: mild, moderate or severe, and depends on the number of episodes of pauses in breath during 60 minutes.

If you were diagnosed with OSA, your doctor might have recommended continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a treatment option. CPAP decreases symptoms associated with OSA like snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, memory concerns and concentration, but the sufferer has to wear a bulky mask at night while he or she sleeps. It is no surprise that compliance is a big issue. Years down the line, OSA can worsen if nothing is being done to decrease symptoms so a second sleep study is necessary to re-evaluate the severity of the condition. It is important at this juncture to get an accurate diagnosis of OSA severity, which would guide and determine the best treatment option for you.

You might very well be a candidate this time around for a new treatment option for OSA, which actually can cure sleep apnea: radiofrequency ablation (RFA). RFA is a safe, effective alternative to traditional sleep apnea treatment. The procedure works by directing small amounts of temperature-controlled and targeted energy to the base of the tongue in the back of the throat. Following RFA, the treated area heals; tissue is tightened and thus reduced in size. This tightening and reduction directly prevents the tongue from blocking the airway while one sleeps, reducing and virtually eliminating sleep apnea.

Over the course of 6 months, patients come in for treatments that occur an in-office setting. The procedure takes minutes and the patient can go back to work or home afterward with virtually no or minimal down time. At the end of the course of treatment, patients will have another sleep study performed to verify the successful cure of their disease.

If you need a sleep study or already have one, we can help you solve your sleep problems. Please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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