You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a sleep specialist.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot to talk about, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Bring results of prior sleep studies or other tests with you, or ask that they be given to your sleep specialist.
- Ask someone, such as a spouse or partner, who has seen you sleeping to come with you to your appointment. He or she will likely be able to provide your doctor with additional information.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For central sleep apnea, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- How will treating or not treating my central sleep apnea affect my health now and in the future?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
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- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Can you describe your typical sleep schedule?
- How long do you sleep, and do you sleep soundly?
- Does anything unusual occur while you're sleeping?
- Do you know if you snore?
- How do you feel when you wake up?
- Do you fall asleep easily during the day?
- Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing while you're sleeping?
- How many times do you wake up at night?
- Are you short of breath when you wake up at night?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- Is there anything that seems to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have any other medical conditions?
- What medications, if any, are you currently taking?
- NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep_apnea/sleep_apnea.htm. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- Badr MS. Central sleep apnea: Risk factors, clinical presentation, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
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- Central sleep apnea. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary_disorders/sleep_apnea/central_sleep_apnea.html?qt=central%20sleep%20apnea&alt=sh. Accessed April 18, 2013.
- What is sleep apnea? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea/. Accessed April 17, 2013.
- Malhotra A, et al. What is central sleep apnea? Respiratory Care. 2010;55:1168.
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- Malhotra A, et al. Cheyne-Stokes breathing and obstructive sleep apnea in heart failure. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 19, 2013.
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- Millman RP, et al. Polysomnography in obstructive sleep apnea in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 16, 2013.
- Badr MS. Central sleep apnea: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Dave NB. Initiation of positive airway pressure therapy for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 12, 2013.
- Find a sleep center near you. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.sleepcenters.org/. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2012-2013. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Accessed April 4, 2013.
- Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 29, 2013.