Healthy Living

How Sleep Apnea Affects Drivers, Operators, and Train Conductors

Factors that Increase the Risks of Sleep Apnea

Almost anyone can be affected with sleep apnea; however, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of suffering from sleep apnea. They include the following:

  • Obesity: People suffering from obesity are four times more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than those with normal weight. The reason is that fat deposits around the upper airway will hinder one’s breathing. However, keep in mind that not all who have sleep apnea are obese.
  • Alcohol and sedative use: Alcohols and sedatives are known to relax the muscles surrounding the throat.
  • Smoking: Like being overweight, smokers are at high risk of having sleep apnea. In particular, they are three times more susceptible than non-smokers.
  • Old age: The risk of sleep apnea increases with age.
  • Being male: Apart from old age, men are two times more likely to have sleep apnea. However, women become more susceptible once they reach their menopausal stage or are overweight.
  • Neck circumference: Thick necks could also mean narrower airways. The risk is high for men who have a neck circumference of 17 inches or larger. Meanwhile, the risk for women increases with a neck circumference of 15 inches or larger.

Air can’t flow properly to the lungs if the airway is partially or fully blocked while sleeping. Due to this, a sudden drop in blood oxygen level takes place. If this level drops significantly, it will cause the brain to disturb one’s sleep. If this occurs more frequently, it could trigger the production of stress hormones, which are responsible for raising heart rate and risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. They could also increase the risks of heart failure. An untreated sleep apnea will cause the body to change the way it uses energy, hence causing the patient to suffer from an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.