Sleep Apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder that has roots in your airway passage. In case you suspect you have sleep apnea on the basis of your partner’s complaints of snoring, you may want to consult a doctor. Here’s what you can ask your doctor on your first visit, to show that you are an involved patient who would like to get their facts:
1. What exactly is sleep apnea and what type of sleep apnea do I have?
The sleep apnea condition is characterized by a disturbed state of sleep in which you pause breathing several times (up to 30 times) every hour while sleeping and for anything between a few seconds to a minute each time. Resumption of breathing is generally automatic and follows choking or gasping for breath.
Clinical diagnoses have found three basic types, namely central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea.
2. What will be the line of treatment (especially medication) the doctor will follow?
The line of treatment depends upon the type of sleep apnea you have and the acuteness of your condition.
3. Will the treatment also require physiotherapy or an invasive procedure like an operation/surgery? If your case so requires (and as per the judgment of your doctor), you could be prescribed with invasive procedures such as mandibular myotopy, somnoplasty, uvulo-palato-pharyngoplasty or tracheotomy.
4. Will I be fitted with a breathing device? What sort of device is it and how will it help me? It is not essential that you will have a device to consider. However, you could be fitted with any of the following devices depending on your case (type and seriousness of condition):
• CPAP- The Continuous Positive Air Pressure is a customized device generally recommended for moderate to severe cases of OAP. It is a strap-on mask-like device to be worn at bedtime that provides rhythmic pressurized air with a built-in humidifier to prevent the air passage from collapsing.
• OAT-The Oral appliance Therapy is a dental device which pushes the lower jaw (mandible) forward, elevates the palette and lowers the tongue to open the airway. It is also used on OAT patients only.