It isn’t easy to admit you’re a snorer. And it can be surprisingly tough to open up to a physician, even if you have a great relationship with him or her. Why? Because snoring is an embarrassing problem many don’t want to own up to.
The truth is, speaking HONESTLY with your doctor is key to addressing exactly what the issues are, whether you’re in danger, and what you can do. Here’s your checklist for bringing up the subject – and what you can expect once you do.
STEP ONE: BE PREPARED
It’s amazing how much we forget we wanted to ask once we’re on that cold table wearing an oversize paper napkin. Because of this phenomenon (you’re not the only one!), we recommend you prepare for your appointment by taking these steps.
- Make a record of your snoring, if possible, and bring it to your appointment to show the doctor. Use a snoring app or ask your partner for help. Do your best to record (on paper, your phone or anywhere convenient; or simply bring along your phone, if you’re using an app) how many times you’re aware of your snoring, how deep and disruptive your snoring seems to you, and whether your snoring involved choking/breathing cessation. THIS IS IMPORTANT – don’t skip this step.
- If you’re having issues with sleepiness or forgetfulness during the day, make a note to tell your doctor. This could be related to snoring, or a condition causing your sleepiness could be making your snoring worse.
- As questions come up (you or someone close to you may think of concerns in your pre-appointment time), write or type them. It’s best to keep all this information in one place; for example, if you’re using a phone app for your snoring, also keep a list of your questions on your phone. NO question is too silly or too trivial. Your doctor is there to help.
- Have someone come with you. Ask a friend or loved one to tag along for your appointment. You may be nervous and leave information out, so having backup can be a huge help and will also make you feel supported. Arrange this in advance so you know you have this form of support.
- Make a list of all medications AND supplements to take to your appointment. You may not think that innocent supplement or occasional Benadryl are important to your snoring, but they could be one piece to your snoring puzzle, and if you’re already taking certain medications your doctor will decide what to prescribe based on what you already have in your system (and what does and doesn’t work for you).
STEP TWO: AT THE APPOINTMENT
- DON’T be embarrassed to admit the extent of your snoring. Your doctor has heard it all. If your loved one has left the bedroom, and you’re comfortable saying this to your doctor, do so. “Bad” is hard to quantify when it comes to something like snoring. Speak up with examples of how snoring is negatively affecting your life.
- DO mention things you feel may not be connected with snoring, but which have been negatives to your health or happiness. For example, if you frequently feel tired, irritable or forgetful during the day, or feel depressed lately, mention each of these issues.
- DON’T automatically say “yes” to surgery or prescription medications. Your doctor’s input can be invaluable, but for serious steps you may wish to get a second opinion, or at least to go home and research your options.
- DO agree to try non-invasive procedures. Particularly if they’re covered by insurance, it can’t hurt to try, for example, a quality CPAP machine or a chin strap. If these don’t work, then you’ll know to mark them off your list and keep seeking answers.
STEP THREE: FOLLOWING UP
- Follow your doctor’s instructions EXACTLY. You can’t tell her a recommended course of action didn’t work if you didn’t give it your full attempt.
- Be honest at your follow-up appointment. Did you get your 30 minutes of walking in, change your diet, take the OTC allergy medications, wear your CPAP or any other instructions your doctor gave you? If not, there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re not being lazy; you’re simply a real person in the real world who sometimes encounters difficulties with a lifestyle change. Tell your doctor so she can gauge how well the therap(ies) is/are working based on how much of them you were able to accommodate.
- If your doctor’s office hasn’t made a follow-up appointment with you, make one yourself. Even if your issue is fixed, or appears to be, you want your doctor on top of your overall health and any changes or tweaks that may need to be made.
- If a sleep study has been prescribed, GO. Yes, it seems like a chore – but a sleep study can be invaluable to your doctor’s advice and to your health, today and in the future.