Truck drivers are at high risk of developing sleep apnea
Truckers play a massive role in helping the United States (US) run smoothly, but the job isn’t easy. Long, solitary hours on the road and high stress are some factors truckers deal with daily. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is prevalent among the trucking population and can be extremely dangerous. If truckers are unaware that they have OSA, driving for them can be very hazardous since one of the primary symptoms is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). Some transportation companies are starting to take the threat of untreated OSA seriously by requiring employees to get a diagnostic test and establish treatment if tested positive. The hope is that this will become the norm for all transportation companies.
Untreated Sleep Apnea
Better Night Solutions discusses a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), which found that long-distance drivers were more likely to smoke, be overweight, and be less physically active than other US workers. Truck drivers may not have as many healthy options while on the road, and poor diets can lead to obesity. These unhealthy occupational habits make them more at risk for developing OSA.
Some of the most severe OSA symptoms include EDS and “brain fog,” an inability to focus, which can be very scary for truck drivers. Many drivers think they’re tired due to long hours on the road or uncomfortable sleeping conditions when it could be a sleep disorder like OSA. It’s vital for trucking and transportation companies to implement sleep disorder testing policies. If diagnosed, truck drivers can seek the proper treatment to stay healthy and stay alert while on the road.
Transportation Companies Taking Action
According to Transport Dive, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York requires OSA testing if the worker is over a certain Body Mass Index (BMI) or neck size. Similarly, the Department of Transportation (DoT) Commercial Vehicle Driver Physical requires a physician to measure a patient’s BMI and neck size. FreightWaves mentions that a neck circumference greater than seventeen (17) inches for men and sixteen (16) inches for women or a BMI of 30 or greater indicates a person is at risk of OSA. The DoT may require those drivers to get a sleep study for diagnostic evaluation. Based on the results, some may be required to undergo medical treatment for OSA. In severe cases, they may put drivers out of service or implement driving restrictions until a physician considers them healthy enough to drive. Steps like these can help save lives and prevent drowsy driving accidents nationwide.
The fact that transportation companies are starting to implement these policies is progress for truckers and other transportation workers. Hopefully, more companies will begin executing preventative health and safety measures regarding sleep disorders like OSA. The health and well-being of our truckers should be a top priority since they are essential for the country to operate successfully.
Once a physician diagnoses OSA, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Treatment can effectively manage the disorder. A travel CPAP such as the AirMini AutoSet Travel PAP is a perfect solution for truck drivers who need portable and compact treatment options while on the go.
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If you are treating your OSA and find you are still having trouble sleeping or constantly feeling tired, please talk to your healthcare provider about what you are experiencing.
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