In recent years, home testing equipment for OSA has been perfected, and is now the more common and popular option for identifying and measuring cases of obstructive sleep apnea. With home testing, a patient is given a compact monitoring device, which they wear while sleeping in their own bed. The data recorded during sleep can then be downloaded for analysis by a sleep medicine physician. Many people feel that this option is not only more cost-effective and convenient than a sleep lab study, but also creates a more realistic picture of their sleep habits. That would not be the case when sleeping in the unfamiliar environment of a lab, and wearing numerous complex sensors.
Among the things a sleep study will show are the number of times a sleeper experiences shallow breathing, which is known as a hypopnea, and the number of times they stop breathing all together, which is known as an apnea. These two events are tallied to create what is known as an apnea/ hypopnea index, or AHI. If you were told that you had an AHI score of 20, it would mean that you were having periods of shallow breathing or stoppages of breath an average of 20 times per hour during sleep. An AHI score of less than 15 is is considered to be “mild” OSA. A score of 15 to 20 is classified as “moderate,” while an AHI over 30 is ranked as “severe.”
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