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Talking to Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea

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The more you know about your health, the better prepared you are to make informed healthcare decisions. Our health library gives you the information you need to take charge of your health.

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.

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.
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Revision Information

  • 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.

  • NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep%5Fapnea/sleep%5Fapnea.htm. Updated December 28, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.

  • What is sleep apnea? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/SleepApnea/SleepApnea%5FSummary.html. Updated July 10, 2012. Accessed June 3, 2013.