The Importance of Testing Long Distance Truck Drivers for Sleep Apnea

The Importance of Testing Long Distance Truck Drivers for Sleep Apnea Sleep apnea is an important issue for long-distance truck drivers. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder during which a person’s breathing is interrupted while he/she sleeps, meaning that the person stops breathing multiple times. These episodes can happen as many as 400 times a night and last ten seconds or longer. This deprives the body and brain of oxygen, which can result in poor sleep and excessive daytime drowsiness. If severe enough, it can even lead to other potentially severe medical issues such as stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and headaches. As high as one-third of truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. Not only does this put the driver in danger, but also the other drivers that are on the road. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can make it hard for the driver to keep his/her focus and hinder the ability to react quickly while driving. In 2013, driver fatigue was the cause of an estimated 72,000 motor vehicle accidents and approximately 800 deaths.
Sleep apnea can occur at any age, and both males and females are equally at risk. Some factors that may put you at higher risk for sleep apnea include:
  • Being overweight
  • Having a small airway
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • A neck size of 17 inches or more for males and 16 inches or more for females
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Ethnicity
  • Being 40 years of age or older
  • Having a recessed chin, large overbite or small jaw
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Noisy snoring
  • Headaches and nausea in the morning
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Gasping while you’re asleep
  • Lack of sexual interest
  • Impotence
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux (heartburn)
If your doctor suspects that you may suffer from obstructed sleep apnea, you will need to go to a sleep center for a sleep study or polysomnography (or PSG). During a PSG, sensors are applied over much of your body so the PSG can record multiple biophysiological signals through the night. However, companies like VirtuOx are able to assist you with having your sleep testing done at home. Being tested at home is less expensive and more convenient. You are able to carry on with your normal bedtime routine and you are more likely to sleep better in your own bed. There are only three sensors needed: one on the nose, one on the finger, and a small device that is attached to a belt that goes around the chest. The unit is then sent back to the facility through the USPS and your doctor will have the results in 2-3 days. You will then have a follow-up appointment to discuss the findings of the sleep study with your doctor. He/she will then determine what is the best way to treat you if you have obstructed sleep apnea. Most of the time, sleep apnea is treated using a machine called continuous positive airway therapy, or CPAP. This is a machine that has a mask or prongs that push air into the nasal passages at times of sleep. For more information on testing for sleep apnea, contact VirtuOx today!
VirtuOx is the leader in home sleep tests and pulse oximetry.
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