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Sleep Medicine

Sleep Medicine at Allegheny Valley Hospital

 Sleep medicine at Allegheny Valley Hospital

Sleep. For most people, it is a simple process that comes naturally, night after night. But for people suffering from sleep disorders, sleeping is anything but simple.

Sleep labs primarily diagnose and treat sleep apnea. Sleeping pattern problems are usually characterized by daytime sleepiness, snoring and interruptions in breathing patterns, such as stoppage. Individuals afflicted by sleep disorders may benefit from the Sleep Laboratory at Allegheny Valley Hospital. In the Sleep Lab, specially trained professionals diagnose and treat sleep-related disorders using some of the most cutting-edge equipment available in health care today.

Types of sleep disorders
A variety of disorders can interfere with sleep. The following are some of the most common, which are diagnosed and treated at the Sleep Lab.
Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing temporarily during sleep, sometimes for as long as 90 seconds at a time. The condition results when the muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep and block the flow of air in and out of the lungs. One of the most common forms of treatment for this condition involves the patient wearing a small mask for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). The CPAP unit puts pressure on the airways to keep them open.
The following symptoms may indicate sleep apnea:
• Heavy snoring
• Frequent awakenings during the night with spells of choking, coughing and gasping for air
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Pronounced restlessness during sleep
• Morning headaches and dry mouth

Narcolepsy is a lifelong disorder that often emerges in young adults and is characterized by an overwhelming desire to sleep. This includes falling asleep at unusual times (while driving, at the dinner table or at work). Emotions such as anger, surprise or amusement may trigger muscle weakness in those who suffer from narcolepsy.
Sleep Study Evaluation
To evaluate and diagnose sleep disorders, a professional at the Sleep Laboratory will conduct a painless test called a polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study. The polysomnogram involves an overnight stay in a comfortable sleeping environment at Allegheny Valley Hospital or at the Vandergrift Outpatient Care Center.
Through the night, a specially trained technologist monitors the electrical activity of the brain, cardiac rhythm, muscle activity, eye movement, respiratory activity, oxygen levels and other factors. Exam results are then evaluated by a pulmonologist, sleep physician or neurologist and forwarded to the patient’s physician.
Patients who suspect they suffer from narcolepsy may be asked to participate in a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), but must first undergo the initial polysomnogram to rule out sleep apnea. MSLT is performed during the day and measures how long it takes an individual to fall asleep. Participants will be asked to fall asleep for a series of naps (usually four or five) while a specialist observes sleep patterns. Individuals with narcolepsy fall asleep more quickly than those who do not suffer from the condition.
For more information
Sleep disorders are recognized medical conditions covered by many insurance carriers. If you need more information concerning a sleep disorder, please call the Sleep Lab at 724.226.7340 or consult with your physician.
Sleep studies are available at:
Sleep Laboratory
Allegheny Valley Hospital
1301 Carlisle Street
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
AVH Outpatient Care Center — Vandergrift
24 Longfellow Street
Vandergrift, PA 15690
West Penn Allegheny Health System
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