i recently had a question from a HealthCentral subscriber who was concerned that though he was getting treatment for sleep apnea, he was tested and found to have certain prolonged periods where the amount of oxygen in his blood was tested as "low." He was also feeling "tired." He questioned whether the therapy was "sufficient" and "on target."
After noting the machine he was using at night - he supplied the brand name and type - I told him he was using the optimal available machine. I also told him that his tiredness was tied more to the quality of his sleep rather than the oxygen levels. I did point out that what would be important to know was:
What his blood pressure readings and his cardiac status (whether or not there were arrythmias) were during the low oxygen level periods.
The reason I highlighted this was because these 2 parameters can indeed be affected by poor oxygenation of the blood - or not - but if they are, the ramifications if this situation were to go on chronically are important and serious. So for patients who are being treated for obstructive sleep apnea, there are a number of things you need to consider when deciding on a therapy plan; there is also a need for you to understand how treatment success can improve your health and quality of life. You also need to know IF treatment is successful, and so periodic evaluations and sleep studies are crucial.
Finally, you need to feel that you can ask questions or bring information that you have heard or experienced - to your current doctor, so you can make sure you are both on the same page of your care plan. Your doctor is your most reliable source of information. If you feel he is unwilling to speak with you or too pressed for time to clarify information, then it may be time to consider a switch or second opinion.
Published On: September 25, 2008