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Sleep Apnea And Truck Drivers: A Dangerous Combination

Dr Martin Abelar - February 3, 2021 - 0 comments

In 2020, truck drivers were the saving grace in many communities, bringing much-needed supplies (remember the toilet paper shortage?) to grocery store shelves during the quarantine. These heroic front-line workers did their jobs without hesitation, driving long distances for long hours to deliver the merchandise we all rely upon in our daily lives.

But a new study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has found that this group of individuals could be at a higher risk for a dangerous medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

Obstructive sleep apnea is categorized as a sleep disorder wherein the affected person stops and restarts breathing throughout the night. This causes among other things repeating waking, low blood oxygen levels, and excessive daytime tiredness and lethargy. This can in turn cause depression, and exacerbate a long list of other conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Truck drivers appear to be at a higher risk for sleep apnea, because they often lead sedentary lifestyles, due to lack of access to healthy foods, long shifts behind the wheel, and lack of exercise.

This can be an especially dangerous combination, especially for truck drivers, as operating a large vehicle while sleep-deprived can be deadly. Furthermore, in addition to an increased risk of traffic accidents, sleep deprivation can increase a truck driver’s risk of other on-the-job injuries.

So, what can you do if you drive a truck, (or even if you don’t)  and you suspect you may have sleep apnea? The first step is speaking to your doctor about undergoing a sleep study, either at home or in a sleep clinic. This can help diagnose sleep apnea. Once you have a diagnosis, there are treatment options available.

Some popular sleep apnea treatments include surgery, CPAP therapy, and customized sleep orthotics which help to position your airway open while you sleep, allowing you to breathe comfortably and get a good night’s sleep.  Sleep orthotics are available at Dr. Abelar’s office, and can really make a big impact on treating your sleep apnea. They are custom-fit to your mouth, so they are very comfortable, too.

To learn more about sleep orthotics from Dr. Abelar, please contact the office for a consultation today.

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