Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which breathing stops frequently throughout sleep, often for as long as a minute. OSA causes the sleeper to wake up briefly at each episode, interrupting continual sleep, interfering with important deep-sleep stages of slumber, and increasing the risk for several medical conditions and complications. Sleep apnea may increase the risk for heart disease and related conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure (CHF).

Here are some questions to ask your doctor about obstructive sleep apnea. Print this page, mark the questions you would like to have answered, and bring it with you to your next appointment. The more you know about OSA, the easier it will be to make informed decisions treatment and prevent complications.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about OSA

  • Why do you suspect I have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
  • What might be the cause for my sleep apnea?
  • What are the primary risk factors for OSA?
  • What are the common signs and symptoms of OSA?
  • Are there complications associated with obstructive sleep apnea? If so, what are the signs of these complications?
  • How will you make a definitive diagnosis of OSA?
  • Will I undergo polysomnography? If so, what does this procedure involve?
  • How should I prepare for this test?
  • What are the consequences of untreated sleep apnea?
  • What type of OSA treatment do you recommend? Why do you recommend this treatment?
  • What are the risks, benefits, and possible complications associated with this type of treatment?
  • What are the side effects of this treatment and signs that my OSA is worsening?
  • What should I do if I experience severe side effects?

    Telephone number to call:

  • How will my OSA be monitored during treatment?
  • What is the usual prognosis once treatment has begun?
  • If treatment is unsuccessful, might surgery be used to treat my OSA? If so, what will this procedure involve?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and possible complications of this surgery?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that might help to reduce or eliminate OSA symptoms?
  • Is obstructive sleep apnea a chronic condition, or can it be cured?
  • Can you recommend a local or online support group for people with OSA or a resource for further information about sleep apnea?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a clinical trial for patients who have OSA? Why or why not?
  • Next appointment:

    Doctor: Date: Time:

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Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 30 Mar 2009

Last Modified: 19 Jul 2011