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Talking to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea

You have a unique medical history. It is important 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 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 do I get tested for sleep apnea?
  • Will I need to see a specialist?
  • 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 advise?
  • 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?
  • Which weight loss program would you recommend?
  • Are there pillow systems to help me sleep on my side?
  • Should I discontinue using alcohol and sedatives?
  • Can you recommend a program to help me quit smoking?

About Outlook

  • What kinds of sleep apnea complications might I be at risk for?
  • Does sleep apnea stay the same or worsen?
  • How severe does sleep apnea have to be to produce serious complications?
  • What signs of complications should I be alert for?
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References:

NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 21, 2015. Accessed December 6, 2016.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated October 5, 2016. Accessed December 6, 2016.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 2014. Accessed December 6, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2016 by Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 5/20/2015

 

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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