The High Cost of Sleep Apnea

Staying awake and alert during long drives is difficult for anyone, but for people with sleep apnea it can be impossible. A Texas woman just won a $3.25 million lawsuit against a trucking company because one of their drivers fell asleep at the wheel and rear ended a stopped car at 65 mph – the woman’s husband died in the accident. Evidently the driver had been terminated from a prior job because he refused to get tested for sleep apnea.

The problem of sleep apnea in the trucking industry is not a secret but what is surprising is just how common the problem is. An Australian study showed that 41% of the truck drivers there have obstructive sleep apnea. When asked, less than 5% of the drivers said they had previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea. This study only looked at Australian truck drivers but the findings that 49% smoked, 50% were obese and 36% were overweight probably would match with the American population of  drivers. NPR had previously reported that up to 33% of truck drivers in the US had sleep apnea.

Sleepy transportation workers are dangerous and the problem is not limited to the people who drive the big rigs. Train operators, pilots and others all have reported experiencing a “near miss” because of fatigue. The cause of the fatigue is frequently an undiagnosed sleep disorder.

Does daytime sleepiness affect your work performance or your home life? If the answer is yes and you experience frequent daytime fatigue you may suffer from a sleep breathing disorder. Please contact Rothfus Family Dental in Medford, OR today at 541-858-7994 to schedule your consultation.

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