Sleep Apnea: What You May or May Not Know, and the Information that Can Save You
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep. This change is caused by intermittent blocking of the upper airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and partially or completely closes the airway. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10-120 seconds and may occur 20-30 times or more each sleeping hour. There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive).
If you have suspicions that you may suffer from sleep apnea, your first step will be to discuss it with a primary care physician. This is usually a requirement made by your insurance carrier. Depending on what your primary care physicians conclude, the next step would be to see a specialist to have a sleep study conducted to make a determination.
Already Know You Suffer from Sleep Apnea?
If you've already been diagnosed with sleep apnea disorder, it's important to research your treatment options and keep yourself in the best health possible. Major contributors to sleep apnea are things that individuals have control over- things such as exercising (maintaining a healthy weight), having a steady sleep schedule, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine intake, creating a good sleeping environment (pets, noise and devices that can distract you).
In Need of a Portable Device (CPAP)?
If you're a sleep apnea patient who has been recommended to buy a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, and have not done so due to the cost, you may be eligible for the CPAP Assistance Program.
Sleep Apnea & the Trucking Industry
A FMCSA study found is that an estimated 28% of Commercial driver's license (CDL) holders suffered from some form of sleep apnea ranging from mild (17.6%), to moderate (5.8%) to severe (4.7%). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) goal is to reduce commercial vehicle related fatalities and injuries.