You finally hit the proverbial brick wall. You can’t go another day feeling fatigued and gasping for air in the middle of the night. In sharing your symptoms with friends and co-workers as well as looking online for answers, you believe that you might have sleep apnea. Hence, you decide to seek out the assistance of a physician to learn whether or not anything can be done to help you and your possible condition.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects breathing at night because either your airway is obstructed or there is a glitch in the signals to the brain telling you to breathe. Whatever the type of sleep apnea, a diagnosis must be verified by a sleep study. During the course of an hour, people who are diagnosed with this condition can have a wide range in the number of respiratory episodes—also known as a respiratory disturbance index (RDI), which then classifies the severity.
The Top Five Questions
Once a sleep study has been performed and learn that indeed you have sleep apnea, you will have a lot of questions. Nevertheless, there are five questions you should ask your physician that will help you understand next steps as well as long range goals. When you meet with your physician, make sure you get answers to the following questions:
1. What can be causing my symptoms, such as fatigue and gasping for air?
Knowing exactly which type of sleep apnea you have, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or central sleep apnea (CSA) is key to understanding your best course of treatment.
2. Is my condition permanent or temporary?
If breathing issues occur during the night due to congestion of nasal passages, or minor illness, then your condition might be temporary. However, sleep apnea is a permanent condition that can be lessened with the lifelong usage of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask or cured with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) treatment.
3. What is the best course of treatment?
Based on the results of your sleep study along with other factors, the best course of treatment to resolve sleep apnea can be determined by a physician on an individualized basis.
4. Are there any lifestyle changes that would help lessen my symptoms?
There are some changes that can be made to decrease your sleep apnea symptoms such as losing weight, changing the head position of your bed and smoking cessation to name a few. However, these changes will only be beneficial for a person with a very mild form of sleep apnea and not totally cure the disease. It is important to not self-diagnose but visit a medical professional to confirm the presence or not of sleep apnea and the severity.
5. If I decide not to be treated, what would be the consequence?
If left untreated or even if not properly diagnosed, people with sleep apnea can potentially be faced with a host of life-threatening health risks such as high blood pressure, heart attack and failure, and stroke.
You should also expect the doctor to ask YOU questions as well so that he or she can get a clear understanding of your medical/sleep history. You should be prepared to answer some of the following questions:
- When did you start experiencing your symptoms? What are your symptoms?
- How often do your symptoms impact your daily activities?
- Do your symptoms affect any other household members?
- Are you aware of any instance where you totally stopped breathing while asleep?
If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or would like to find out more, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.