Talking to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with sleep apnea. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your doctor
About Sleep Apnea
- Could my daytime sleepiness be due to sleep apnea?
- How can I (or my sleep partner) tell if I’m having apnea episodes?
- Is it safe for me to continue to drive?
- Is it safe for me to operate heavy machinery?
- Is it safe for me to continue to participate in my usual activities?
- Is sleep apnea the only reason for my symptoms? What else could be causing my fatigue?
About Your Risk of Developing Sleep Apnea
- Since I'm overweight, could I develop sleep apnea?
- Do I have any other risk factors for this condition?
- Are there other measures I can take to lower my risk?
About Treatment Options
- Are there any new trials of medications for sleep apnea that you would recommend?
- Are there dental or orthodontic devices that might be helpful for my degree of sleep apnea?
- Is my condition severe enough that you would recommend surgery in order to avoid potential complications?
- What are the success rates of the different types of surgical interventions?
About Lifestyle Changes
- How much weight should I lose in order to reduce my risk of sleep apnea?
- What weight loss program would you recommend?
- Are there pillow systems to help me stay sleeping on my side?
- Should I discontinue using alcohol and sedatives?
- Can you recommend a program to help me quit smoking?
- What kinds of sleep apnea complications might I be at risk for?
- Does sleep apnea tend to stay the same, or grow progressively worse?
- How severe does sleep apnea have to be to produce serious complications?
- What signs of complications should I be alert for?
Being evaluated for sleep apnea. American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/resources/pubs/evaluated.html . Published May 2005. Accessed September 17, 2008.
Cecil R, Goldman L, Benett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.
NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep_apnea/sleep_apnea.htm . Updated June 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.
What is sleep apnea? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/SleepApnea/SleepApnea_WhatIs.html . Updated February 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.
Last reviewed August 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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