Thursday, September 4, 2014

Truck Drivers Suffer From Sleep Apnea

By Olivia
Sleeping apnea is a disorder whereby an individual's breathing stops and starts repeatedly while sleeping. It is condition that affects not only truck drivers in the trucking industry, but Americans at large. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans are not getting enough night rest and report by FMCSA also has it that about 30 percent of truck drivers (totalling about 1.9 million truck drivers) suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. We should note that this disorder affects not only truck drivers but also non truckers alike. There are different types of sleep apnea but obstructive sleep apnea is the most frequent case found. It is understood that having a tired driver behind the wheel will not only put his or her life at risk, but also lives of drivers that ply the same highways. Also, excessive sleepiness leads to being slow to reaction times, inattentiveness causing drivers to be at major risk on the highway and also reduced alertness.

There are different symptoms and risk factors associated with sleep apnea that an individual should observe. They include the following:
  • A Body Mass Index above 30, 35 or 40 (Reports suggest that there are about 6 million truckers and 8 million trucking-related jobs in the US. Research also shows that about 73 percent of drivers are overweight, 50 percent are obese and 12 percent have a BMI of 35 or greater). 
  • Loud snoring during sleep (snoring does not necessarily mean an individual has sleep apnea)
  • I nterruption of breathing during sleep (five or more times during one sleeping cycle)
  • Feeling fatigued during the day
  •  Consuming caffeine to keep alert
  •  Smoking
  • High blood pressure (HBP is more related to obesity than sleep apnea)
  • Diabetes (this is also more related to obesity than sleep apnea)
  •  Depression
  • Headaches

Being between the ages 40 and 60 years (Children can also be effected. Those over 60 years also see a drop in sleep apnea cases).

Other cases include;
  •  Being male makes you more prone to having sleep apnea disorder, however, females also stand a chance.
  • Being African-American or Hispanic

Complications and effects of sleep apnea are as follows:
  • cardiovascular problems
  • fatigue,
  • eye problems,
  • complications with medications
  • surgery

Truck drivers suffer poor health due to the challenges associated with their job and lifestyle.

The MRB has mandated the FMCSA that any driver with a BMI of 35 should be screened for sleep apnea using a PSG. If diagnosed, such driver should be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine for at least four hours a day usually during their sleep period.
Despite its advantges, the CPAP machine also has its drawbacks: 
  •  It is obtrusive
  •  difficult to use,
  • expensive to maintain

I stand to believe that adequate and affordable medical insurance or plan that includes the sleep apnea plan should be provided to truck drivers. This would afford them the opportunity to take the test and also get treated if by any chance, diagnosed with the sleep apnea disorder. Truckers need to be aware of sleep apnea to protect themselves and their job. And If you do have concerns about having sleep apnea, you should not be bothered, rather, you should get tested.

Fatigued commercial truck drivers should also desist from plying the road as this is a threat to the safety of his life and other drivers at large. A rested and productive driver leads to safer roads as well.

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