If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, consider asking your doctor the following questions:
1. If I will require one of the devices that can help with sleep apnea, can I do without it once I am treated? Will I require to have the CPAP or any other device on even during the day? How have other working patients coped with this? These devices are worn by some people during the daytime as well. Ask your doctor if the device can be removed at any stage and how patients have coped with it.
2. Does the doctor have information to support groups on sleep apnea? If you think you suffer from sleep apnea, you are not alone. Sleep Apnea victimizes more than 20 million Americans and the global figures are even more astounding. (Source: Sleep Apnea Disorder Digest. Issue: 26th April, 2009. URL: http://sleepapneadisorder.info).
3. Are there any associated risks to consider? Sleep apnea patients run the risk of heart stroke, memory loss due to brain damage (because of deprivation of oxygen to brain cells), and reduced libido and heart conditions, pulmonary hypertension, kidney failure, liver damage, headaches, irregular menstrual cycles and eye disorders, etc.
4. Are there any lifestyle changes? If yes, what are they? Yes, lifestyle changes will be called for. Whatever be the line of treatment your doctor has prescribed for you, you are expected to make certain lifestyle changes at your end that will help you manage your condition more effectively. Some of these are:
a. Reducing weight and thereby your Body Mass Index
b. Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink
c. Quitting smoking
d. Inclining the head of your bed
e. Sleeping on your side
f. Using nasal dilating drops
g. Joining a sleep apnea support group
h. Getting your family's help and emotional support.
5. What is the prognosis for sleep apnea patients? The prognosis of sleep apnea includes the likely outcomes, duration of condition, chances of complications, prospects for recovery, recovery period for sleep apnea, and survival rates. Such forecast issues are by their nature unpredictable.