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How truckers can recognize and treat sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects 35% of all commercial truckers in Ohio and across the U.S. They are, in fact, 11 times more likely to suffer from it than the general population. Of the all the sleep apnea variations, obstructive sleep apnea is the most prevalent among truckers. With OSA, the mouth palate and throat muscles relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the airway for 5 to 10 seconds at a time and thus breaking up the individual's sleep.

This lack of continual, restful sleep will impact a trucker's behavior behind the wheel. High levels of drowsiness can make one inattentive to the surroundings and heighten the risk for an accident. Truckers who know they have OSA can receive treatment. That's why it's important to recognize its symptoms.

The symptoms of OSA include loud snoring, a continual gasping for air during sleep and fatigue and headaches when one wakes up. OSA has been linked to poor memory, attention problems, depression, high blood pressure and diabetes.

CPAP machines provide one well-known way of dealing with OSA. These deliver continual air pressure to keep the airways open. Mouthguards are another option. Individuals may also want to sleep on their side as much as possible. Surgery is reserved for serious cases.

Unfortunately, many truckers never have their OSA diagnosed, or they know they have a problem but never see a doctor about it. When such a condition leads to a truck collision, legal action may be warranted. The victim may want to file a claim against the trucking company and seek reimbursement for their treatment costs, vehicle repair costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and other losses. An attorney could help with this process.

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