Communicating Well with Your Health Care Providers
When you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, it can feel overwhelming. You will likely have many questions and the answers may not always be clear at first. It is
important to talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options and get answers to all of your questions.
Build a good relationship with your family and sleep doctors, sleep apnea health professional/ educator and CPAP company. They are there to help you manage your sleep apnea, help you adjust to your sleep apnea treatment and follow-up with any questions or concerns you may have. Note: The sleep apnea professional/educator may be an employee at the CPAP company.
Build Your Sleep Apnea Team
Learning how to manage sleep apnea is the first step to maintaining your health and regaining quality of life. This is much easier with a team. Consider family, friends and healthcare professionals such as:
•Your sleep doctor
•Your family doctor
•Your sleep apnea health professional/educator
Those who become your informal caregivers (family and friends) will play a very important role in your life. Caregivers will likely help you with managing your sleep apnea. It is important to keep them informed about any changes or needs you might have.
A Word to the Partner or Caregiver
Sleep doctors, family doctors, sleep apnea health professionals, and CPAP company work as a team to help people use their CPAP equipment successfully and properly. Partners, spouses and caregivers play a very important role as well.
Here is how you can help as a partner or caregiver:
•Learn all you can about sleep apnea.
•Learn about the equipment and help your partner with problem solving.
•Encourage your partner to continue with the treatment.
•Reassure your partner that using CPAP does not affect how you feel about him/her.
• Support your partner’s efforts to improve their health by, for example, encouraging weight management, healthy eating, and regular exercise.
Questions to Ask When Looking OSA Treatment Equipment for a CPAP Company
• Is the company accredited and does it follow best medical practices? Note: this may not apply to certain provinces.
• What is the cost of testing and what is the waiting time for testing?
• Are the employees licensed health professionals such as respiratory therapists or nurses?
• Do the staff have an attitude of helpfulness?
• Will the staff spend time helping me to get the right mask fit?
• Is there a broad selection of masks and machines to choose from?
• Does the company have a return or exchange policy for masks and CPAP machines? Is there any warranty?
• What is the cleaning policy for equipment, especially testing equipment?
• Do they provide oxygen therapy if it is needed in addition to CPAP?
Other questions you may wish to ask private companies before being tested for sleep apnea:
• Does a certified sleep doctor or a sleep doctor interpret the tests?
• Does the company work closely with local sleep doctors?
• How long will it take to receive my test results?
• Do you assist in the process to apply for a government-funded CPAP machine?
• Do you provide follow-up support and remote monitoring? If so, is there a cost?
• Do you obtain an insurance estimate of coverage from my insurance provider prior to purchase?
• Do you allow trials of different CPAP machines before I decide which one to purchase?
• Are there any other costs that I might incur, where applicable?
• What are your patient care values?
If CPAP or other treatments do not work for you, your doctor may suggest surgery to treat your OSA symptoms. Surgery for sleep apnea is not “one size fits all.” For surgery to help, the doctor needs to know exactly what part of your airway is getting blocked. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor can examine your nose, mouth and throat to pinpoint the problem.
Surgery has its own risks, and in most cases is not recommended by doctors.
For people with severe sleep apnea, CPAP is still the best choice. Please, keep in mind that no surgery is without risk. Surgery is generally not reversible and in some circumstances, surgery may actually worsen the apnea.
If surgical intervention is considered your ENT doctor should work closely with your sleep doctor as additional testing may be needed. Please discuss your questions about surgical options or new procedures with your sleep doctor.
Some people with mild sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle adjustments such as weight loss and avoiding alcohol and sedatives. If you only have episodes of OSA while sleeping on your back, sleep
position training may correct the problem. As you get older or if you gain weight, these simple solutions may no longer be effective. Download our complete brochure for details.
1. Peppard PE, T. Young, M. Palta, J. Dempsey, and J, Skatrud. Longitudinal study of moderate weight change and sleep-disordered breathing. JAMA 2000; 284:3015-3021.
This content was reviewed by The Canadian Thoracic Society.