Sleep Unit Helps Diagnose Sleep Apnoea

Riezl Espanta, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Thursday, 12 October 2017
Portland district people can rest easy at night thanks to PDH’s sleep studies unit.

With increasing numbers of people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, the unit and its diagnostic testing capabilities is helping to address the problem.

Clinical nurse specialist for the sleep unit, Riezl Espanta, said sleep apnea; where people have repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat during sleep - was common. There have been a lot of people diagnosed in the past few years, she said. People are more aware of the problem and we're getting more referrals from GPs.

The unit is seeing patients locally and from throughout the region for diagnostic sleep studies where they are connected to electrodes to measure their sleep, breathing and oxygen levels while sleeping at PDH.

The results are sent to Melbourne to be analysed and, depending on severity, clients are referred back for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) study-- which is a positive airway pressure ventilator to keep airways continuously open.

After the CPAP study, Ms Espanta consolidates and interprets the results and discusses the outcomes with clients. If needed, people are offered a home trial which means they can take a CPAP machine home and trial it for 2-3 weeks, with a $50 refundable deposit. This gives an opportunity to experience what it's like to have a CPAP every night and help determine if they can tolerate the therapy.

Everything is recorded on the machine and when they come back we have the software to see the results straight away, Ms Espanta said.

Many people in the Portland region have the condition, some quite severely. The tests reveal a number of events when people stop breathing, some up to 70 times an hour, sometimes for more than a minute.

PDH can do diagnostic tests Monday to Thursday nights and Ms Espanta is available at the clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment.

She urges people having sleeping problems to consult their GP. All referrals to the unit must be via a GP.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include feeling sleepy during the day, even just after waking up, disrupted sleep at night and snoring.

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