Approximately one in three adults suffers from a sleep disorder and Sleep Apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep conditions afflicting today’s public. With 80% of moderate to severe Sleep Apnea cases left undiagnosed, the health consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic. It’s important to understand the condition and know how to talk to your doctor about Sleep Apnea. Let’s look at how and when to bring up the topic, some basic talking points, and the options available to you if you are diagnosed with some form of sleep disorder.
When Should You Talk About Sleep Apnea?
Most patients wait through years of nagging by their bed-mate before seeking medical support or guidance about Sleep Apnea. This means too often individuals spend years damaging their bodies and suffering in silence before doing anything.
You’ll want to talk to your doctor about possible Sleep Apnea issues if you’ve been told that you snore excessively, stop breathing while asleep, or otherwise appear in respiratory distress during the night. Additionally, if you are extra tired throughout the day, have dozed off while driving, or have suffered from symptoms of heightened irritability, temporary memory loss, or other signs of limited sleep, it’s likely time to see a doctor. If you feel like you’re always ready for a nap during the day, you may not be getting enough sleep at night. It’s not about how early you go to bed or how late you rise – it’s about the quality of your sleep during the night.
What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Sleep Apnea?
Before you visit your doctor, jot down some questions you feel will help clarify the situation and point you towards a sense of ownership of the possible diagnosis. Consider asking:
- What is the underlying cause of my symptoms?
- Can my respiratory issues be treated?
- Do I need to see a sleep specialist?
- What is a sleep study, and how can it help me?
- Is this temporary or a permanent issue?
- What are the treatment options available?
- Where can I find more resources and information for Sleep Apnea?
Your doctor will likely have questions as well, such as:
- Do your symptoms come and go, or are they persistent?
- Has anything helped alleviate your symptoms in the past?
- How would your partner describe your symptoms?
- When did your problems sleeping begin?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other health issues?
Talking to your doctor early on can help you address your Sleep Apnea and promote a sense of health and wellness. A sleep doctor can properly diagnose you so you may begin treatment for your symptoms. They will be able to identify the severity of your sleep apnea condition and recommend what type of therapy may work best for you. You can also take this sleep apnea questionnaire and bring the results with you to your doctor’s visit.
What Are the Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?
In addition to a doctor’s visit, there are a couple of things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of Sleep Apnea. For one, minimize your intake of alcohol, which relaxes the muscles in the throat and can exacerbate Sleep Apnea. Try to avoid taking medications that contain a sedative as these can also worsen Sleep Apnea symptoms. Additionally, Sleep Apnea is often more severe when sleeping on one’s back. Sleep on your side instead or if you must sleep on your back, elevate your head and neck slightly to help open the airway.
CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment, which can work immediately to combat your Sleep Apnea symptoms. CPAP masks are easy to fit on your face and may take a few nights to get used to, but after a while, it’ll become part of your normal nightly sleep routine. You don’t have to feel fatigued or deal with endless nights of restless sleep. Speak with your doctor about your concerns and see if Sleep Apnea is what’s been plaguing you. There are a variety of CPAP masks and systems to choose from that are designed for different sleep styles and individual preferences. Explore your options today.