I am looking for information for a friend who snores loud and stops breathing in their sleep. How should they even start getting their treatment? I don't even know where to begin.
Doctors Answers (9)
The first step is to make them aware of what you have witnessed and then advise them to see a board certified sleep specialist.
Begin by finding a Board Certified Sleep Doctor in your area. You will need an initial evaluation during which the doctor will take a full history, physical exam and determine if a sleep study is needed. CPAP is a prescription written by an MD. There are a number of options depending on her history.
Start with a sleep study. You can contact a sleep lab or consult your physician. In our dental office, we can provide a home sleep study machine for those patients that would like to go that route. After a diagnosis, treatment can be recommended.
Your question is a very important one and your friend is very lucky to have someone like you watching out for them. What your friend needs to understand is that snoring is NEVER normal. There can be different reasons why people snore and some reasons are more serious than others but you have clarified that your friend snores loud and stops breathing which is a hallmark sign of sleep apnea. Of course the only way to truly know what is to have a sleep study at a sleep lab (at this time I don’t recommend the at home sleep testing because of the equipment deficiencies). You can find an accredited sleep center on this website. Schedule a new patient visit with a physician who is board-certified in sleep medicine. While any physician can write an order for a sleep evaluation, a physician board certified in sleep medicine is much more intimately familiar with how various sleep disorders are identified and treated. At the initial visit, a short evaluation will ask many questions about the patient’s sleep habits, medical history and symptoms that may indicate if a sleep disorder is present. If it is necessary, a polysomnogram (sleep study) will be ordered. Our schedulers will verify insurance coverage for the sleep study and review the details with your friend. Once the sleep study has been completed, a board certified sleep medicine physician will review and interpret the data, make a diagnosis and discuss with your friend what the next steps should be. PAP therapy is the most common treatment for sleep apnea (because it is simple and it works) but there are other options that can be discussed as well. The important thing you can do now is not let your friend continue to go undiagnosed and untreated. Sleep apnea is a real health risk with links to cardiovascular problems, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more. The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable and your friend will wish he/she had done something sooner. Good luck.
The best place to start is by talking to your primary care physician (PCP), or recommending that your friend do so. Your primary care doctor can assess the situation and determine the need for a referral to a sleep specialist. Most PCPs have experience with the sleep specialists in their region, so the referral you receive is likely to be based on the doctor's prior experience with the sleep specialist, and this is a good basis for the referral. If you or your friend do not have a primary care doctor, seek consultation directly with a sleep specialist who is board certified in sleep medicine, and who is working at sleep center that is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). You can find sleep centers in your region by visiting the AASM Website at www.aasmnet.org. Taking the first step puts you, or your friend, on the path to proper evaluation and treatment!
Your friend will need to observed in an overnight sleep laboratory so he/she can be tested to see if he/she has a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Find a sleep laboratory in your area.
The individual should have a Sleep Specialist evaluation ASAP. The first step...You can have them fill out our questionnaire posted at our website, under "Complimentary Consult Evaluation." The Physician will then recommend a path going forward.
To get the best treatment for what sounds like obstructive sleep apnea, a board certified sleep specialist should be involved. Your friend may need a referral from the primary care physician. If there is no primary care physician, check the website sleepdisorders.com or sleepcenters.org. A sleep study will be ordered and treatment options will be presented.
You can begin your search for help by finding physicians who are Board certified in Sleep Medicine or dentists with advanced training in dental sleep medicine. You may look at the web site www.sleepdisorder.com for information. You may also contact the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For dentists, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine will list ones in your area. Once you meet with the health care provider she can help you with more information.