Long-haul truck drivers in Nevada should be aware that 35% of truckers suffer from sleep apnea. The most common form of this disorder is obstructive sleep apnea where the mouth palate and throat muscles collapse and block the upper airway while a person is sleeping. OSA interrupts sleep and actually prevents someone from achieving deep sleep, which repairs physical fatigue, and dream sleep, which is necessary for repairing mental fatigue.
As a result, those with untreated OSA will feel drowsy all day. OSA can contribute to diabetes and depression, and in serious cases, individuals may suffer heart attack or stroke. The important thing for truckers to remember is that sleep disorders put themselves and other drivers at risk. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of accidents involving trucks.
Recognizing OSA is the first step to prevention. The symptoms include loud snoring and continual gasping for air during sleep, headaches in the morning, irritability throughout the day and the inability to remember or focus on things.
Treatment options are varied. For mild OSA patients, a mouthguard called a mandibular advancement device may be enough. Others may need a continual stream of air pressure to keep the airways open, and this is what a CPAP machine provides. If these treatments fail, then surgery may be the way to go.
Drowsy driving is a form of negligence, which is why truckers at risk for OSA are required to undergo a sleep study. In the event that truckers or trucking companies ignore the risk for OSA, they can be held liable for any truck crashes that result from the drowsiness caused by the condition. Victims, for their part, may hire a lawyer. The lawyer might hire investigators and medical experts to show how the sleep disorder contributed to the crash.