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Talking to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea

Talk openly and often with your healthcare provider. It will help you make the best choices for your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will help you talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write down your questions so you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you grasp what you are hearing. Ask for help, if needed.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask where you can learn more. You have a right to know.

Questions to Ask Your doctor

About Sleep Apnea

  • Could my daytime sleepiness be from sleep apnea?
  • How do I get tested for it?
  • Will I need to see a specialist?
  • How can I or my sleep partner tell if I am having apnea episodes?
  • Is it safe for me to drive?
  • Is it safe for me to use heavy machinery?
  • Is it safe for me to do my usual activities?
  • Is sleep apnea the only reason for my symptoms? What else could be causing them?

About Your Risk of Getting Sleep Apnea

  • Could I get sleep apnea from being overweight?
  • Do I have any risk factors?
  • Are there steps I can take to lower my risk?

About Treatment

  • Are there any medicines I can take?
  • Are there dental or orthodontic devices that might help me?
  • Do I need surgery to prevent health problems?
  • What are the success rates of the different types of surgery?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • How much weight should I lose to lower my risk?
  • Which weight loss program is right for me?
  • Are there pillow systems to help me sleep on my side?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol and using sedatives?
  • I smoke. Are there any programs that can help me quit?

About Outlook

  • What kinds of sleep apnea complications might I be at risk for?
  • Does sleep apnea stay the same or get worse?
  • How severe does sleep apnea have to be to cause serious complications?
  • What signs of complications should I watch for?
REFERENCES:

Central sleep apnea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/central-sleep-apnea. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Greenstone M, Hack M. Obstructive sleep apnoea. BMJ. 2014 Jun 17;348:g3745.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa-in-adults. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Sleep apnea. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Sleep-Apnea-Information-Page. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Snoring, sleeping disorders, and sleep apnea. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/snoring-and-sleep-apnea. Accessed September 17, 2020.

What is sleep apnea? American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 4/7/2021