Timely diagnosis of your sleep apnea is important to prevent complications. Your doctor may request that you attend a sleep laboratory for a sleep test, or do a test with equipment that you can use at home.
First, make an appointment to see your GP. They will be familiar with sleep apnea, can assess your symptoms and refer you for an in-lab sleep test or a home sleep test.
Make sure you are referred for a Type 1 or Type 2 sleep test as these two levels of testing are diagnostic tests. Type 3 and Type 4 tests are sometimes offered but they are not diagnostic tests and you will still need a Type 1 or Type 2 test if they indicate sleep apnea.
Type 1 and Type 2 tests for sleep apnea are reimbursed by Medicare. CPAP therapy, if you require it, is usually partially reimbursed by private health funds. Contact your health fund to find out if and how you are covered.
If your symptoms clearly point to sleep apnea, your doctor may request a home sleep test.
You will meet with a qualified Sleep Technician who will take your relevant medical history and explain to you what sleep apnea is. You will be given some test equipment, be shown how to fit it and sent home to wear it while you sleep.
An independent sleep physician will review your test results and provide a diagnosis as well as treatment and management recommendations about the next steps.
If your symptoms are less clear, there are other factors to consider or home testing is not available, your doctor may refer you for an in-lab sleep test. The test is usually performed at night in a sleep laboratory when you would normally be sleeping. In addition to information recorded by the machines, the test is supervised by a qualified Sleep Technician who will make separate notes. An independent sleep physician will review your test results and provide a diagnosis as well as treatment and management recommendations about the next steps.
Wearing some diagnostic equipment when you go to bed may be strange, most patients find that the testing process is not unduly uncomfortable and manage to fall asleep normally.