5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea

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  1. Are you a certified sleep specialist or working in conjunction with one?
    Why you should ask this question: A primary care physician may suspect that you have sleep apnea—and some will even order tests—but it's important that you consult with a certified sleep doctor, who can rule out other conditions and decide on the best treatment for you, before a diagnosis is made.
  2. Do I need a sleep study?
    Why you should ask this question: If your doctor suspects sleep apnea, your next step should be an overnight sleep study where technicians will monitor your breathing and behaviors. In some cases if you're otherwise healthy with no signs of complications, you may be eligible instead for a home sleep study. But that decision should only be made by a sleep doctor who has conducted a full exam.
  3. What do my study results mean?
    Why you should ask this question: Many patients don't understand the grave dangers of sleep apnea until their doctor explains to them exactly how often they stop breathing and how low their oxygen saturation levels get while they sleep. Knowing the severity of your case will help you decide between home management (only recommended for mild apnea) or more aggressive treatment.
  4. What are all of my treatment options and their likelihood of success?
    Why you should ask this question: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the recommended first treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea, but there are sometimes other options too. Surgery may allow certain people freedom from wearing a CPAP mask to bed every night, but it's not always a permanent cure. Make sure your doctor gives you an accurate assessment without promoting his or her own treatment plan with more promise than it deserves.
  5. What can I do to make using my CPAP machine more comfortable?
    Why you should ask this question: Whether you obtain your CPAP machine and mask directly from your sleep doctor's office or from a medical supply retailer, it's important that a professional helps you choose a machine you feel comfortable with. There are several different kinds of masks, and accessories like humidifiers, that can make the daunting contraption much more tolerable for beginners.
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Last Updated: April 17, 2008

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