Driving with Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea syndrome (commonly shorted as SAS) is characterized by the existence of recurrent respiratory pauses during sleep, lasting more than 10 seconds and with a minimum of 5-10 episodes per hour.
During those respiratory pauses there is a decrease in arterial oxygen saturation of more than 4% of baseline. Repeated episodes of obstructive sleep apnea cause people to wake up in order to breathe normally again. It also activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is related to the higher frequency of cardiovascular disease in these patients.
The sleep apnea condition is often identified as the one which has recurrent pauses in respiration during sleep. It can last for ten seconds and there can be minimum of five to ten episodes in an hour’s time. Due to the repeated obstructive sleep apnea it can lead to the individual waking up several times in the night in order to breath. Few of the symptoms of sleep apnea are change in mood as well as personality, it can lead to rise of certain health issues due to lack of sleep, lack of attention and concentration. There have been studies carried out in the past to unveil some of the important information pertaining obstructive sleep apnea and its impact on driving. In has been stated that those individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are known to have higher rate of accidents than the general population, it has led to an increase in the risk of accident since the drivers are drowsy and there has been clear link between car accidents and sleep apnea which also increases with consumption of alcohol.
There was a study conducted wherein a group was selected for testing the effect of sleep apnea on driving. There were some who were suffering from sleep apnea and some who were not suffering from sleep apnea. Those who did not suffer from sleep apnea used the simulator one time whereas those who suffered from sleep apnea used the simulator twice. The main purpose of using this simulator was to test the driver’s ability to stay in the same lane. Those who suffered from sleep apnea, 20 percent of them failed the test hence it was stated that individuals suffering from sleep apnea had double the risk of accidents than those individuals who did not suffer. Hence there are certain tips which can be followed by those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and are not under any kind of treatment:
- Those who are suffering from sleep apnea and have not been treated should avoid driving.
- Those patients who are being treated for sleep apnea and are also in controlled mode along with a favorable report should be able to obtain as well as renew their driving license.
- Doctors can take care by providing investigation on the possibility of the patients who come along for consultation.
It is advisable to go in for micro-naps as a possible defense method for those who are unable to sleep well and if it is a recurrent problem in those drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The treatment involved in obstructive sleep apnea would require the administration of positive air pressure on a continuous basis while the individual is sleeping and it can either with or without the oxygen therapy based on what the case is about. Those individuals who are overweight should look to lose weight since they are also prone to sleep apnea. In case of any associated metabolic disease being the root cause then it should be first treated.