Some reports say that between 1 and three commercial drivers are living with and driving with un-diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. While these drivers get older, it usually becomes worse and it is more prevalent in men compared to women.
When sleep apnea happens, it is due to an obstruction of airflow. Some patients have a large uvula, other people have a narrow jaw which can also lead to a blockage of the airway. What is difficult for patients to understand is how dangerous this can be. Some of the common factors which lead to sleep apnea are physiological, others are based on things like obesity. With commercial drivers, 42% have a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 30 which is a very strong predictor of sleep apnea.
Neck circumfrence is also a easy way to guess if a patient has high potential for sleep apnea or not. With so much extra flesh which can float down and into the airway, it makes it much easier to have sleep apnea. But, everyone should realize that a patient does not need to be very obese patient, even average sized patients can have high risk factors for sleep apnea.
Some patients with sleep apnea have the following symptoms:
- fatigued during the day
- constant headaches throughout the night and sometimes during the day
Apnea is defined as a stop of airflow for more than ten seconds. That’s right, a stop in airflow completely
Hypopneas are defined as a slow down or decrease in the airflow for 10 seconds or more. Also, depending on which sleep lab or sleep doctor you are talking with, the definition of a hypopnea may vary slightly.
During an apnea event, there is a quick buildup of carbon dioxide and this in turn arouses the brain and causes the muscles in the throat to wake up. Thankfully this happens, otherwise people would essentially die during these events.
When commercial drivers are trying to get their work done each day, the effects of obstructive sleep apnea can cause all sorts of problems with their physical work. Falling asleep at the wheel is one of the biggest concerns for obvious reasons. As sleep apnea has become more and more prevalent and in the news and media, testing and treatment for this condition is becoming more well known which in turn is helping out the general public. To think that your city bus driver might be at high risk of sleep apnea is a scary thought.