Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sleep Apnea and Driving Dangers

As the health risks of sleep apnea have become apparent and an increasing number of effective treatment options become have become available, more people have been willing to seek diagnosis and help for this dangerous sleep disorder.

Individuals in one demographic group, however, may actually purposely conceal the symptoms of sleep apnea for fear of losing their jobs. Truckers interviewed for a recent sleep apnea article in the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader said reporting snoring or other signs of sleep apnea can result in difficulty being cleared to drive.

One of the side-effects of sleep apnea is drowsiness during waking hours, a complication that is of concern to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees commercial trucking. A 2002 study sponsored by the FMCSA indicated that nearly one-third of commercial truck drivers may suffer from sleep apnea.

Truckers who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) undergo physical exams and sleep screenings every other year. Drivers already diagnosed with sleep apnea undergo annual evaluations.

The sleep-related segments of these reviews entail questionnaires about sleeping habits and sleep disorder symptoms, as well as a physical trial known as the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test, which monitors a subject’s ability to remain alert in a quiet, dimly lit room for extended periods.

One trucker interviewed for the Nov. 14 News-Leader story said, “Anybody with a CDL knows you’re never supposed to tell the medical doctor that you snore. If you have sleep apnea, you’re a liability to the company.”

Unfortunately, failure to seek sleep apnea treatment can result in hazards to both the individual with the sleep disorder and others who are put at risk when someone who suffers from sleep apnea drives while drowsy.

If you experience the symptoms of sleep apnea, there are a number of successful treatment options available. To learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, please contact a dentist who specializes in sleep apnea near you.

posted by Steve at 7:42 AM