You May Have to Start Sleep Apnea Conversation with Your Doctor

Aug 06, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

Sleep Apnea Conversation with DoctorAlthough awareness is increasing, 80% or more of people with sleep apnea are still undiagnosed. If you suspect you might be among them, you can’t wait for your doctor to discover the condition on their own–you have to bring it up. Doctor education is a little ahead of public education, but not as far as you might think when it comes to sleep apnea and there are many reasons why your doctor may not make the sleep apnea connection.

Sleep Apnea Is Invisible

The reason why sleep apnea is so underdiagnosed, and why your doctor might not think of it, is that it doesn’t occur when you’re in their office. It occurs while you’re sleeping, which makes it hard for you to think of it, let alone your doctor.

Unless you’re actually falling asleep in the waiting room, the doctor likely won’t know about many of your sleep apnea symptoms. Your doctor may see risk factors such as obesity, large neck circumference, and a hypertension diagnosis, but may not put them together. It’s up to you to make sure your doctor has all the evidence necessary to suspect sleep apnea.

Mention Your Symptoms

One of the crucial things you can do is make sure you mention important sleep apnea symptoms to your doctor. These include symptoms like:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Memory problems
  • Low mood
  • Morning headaches

Of course, these and other related symptoms may be connected with other potential health problems that your doctor may identify. It’s always important to give your doctor enough information to come to valid conclusions about your health.

When All Else Fails . . .

If your doctor doesn’t make the connection between your symptoms on their own, you should mention the condition by name and hear what your doctor has to say about it. Your doctor may not be thinking sleep apnea because you don’t fit the traditional model of a sleep apneic–male, over 50, overweight, with a thick neck–but you may still have the condition.

A referral to a sleep physician may be necessary to be sure about your sleep apnea.

Don’t Forget to Mention Treatment Alternatives

Another important conversation you have to have with your doctor is about your treatment options for sleep apnea. Most doctors will prescribe CPAP as the first treatment, but CPAP may not be right for you for many reasons. Make sure your doctor considers oral appliance therapy as a treatment for your sleep apnea.

If you want to learn more about effective, comfortable, and convenient sleep apnea treatment, please call 817-481-6888 for an appointment with Grapevine sleep dentist Dr. Becky Coats at Grapevine Dental Care.