Truck drivers know the importance of their DOT health examinations and keeping their health cards up-to-date. If you are a truck driver, you may have had several DOT exams in the past to maintain your health card so you can keep your driving job. However, if you snore at night and it has never been addressed during past DOT examinations, you should know it could be a problem that would compromise yours and the safety of other people on the road. Learn more about why snoring at night could be the symptom of a more serious health problem called sleep apnea and how it could keep you from driving for a living.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the muscles in your throat to relax during your sleep. When your throat muscles and tongue relax too much, they block your airway. Some sleep apnea sufferers stop breathing several times a night, during which their brain is deprived of oxygen. The brain will automatically 'shake' sufferers awake during this time; many times they may not even be aware of this. Because of being awakened so many times during sleep, a sleep apnea sufferer may feel extremely tired the next day and have tendencies to fall asleep, especially when driving. For this reason, ensuring your snoring is not a sleep apnea symptom is vital.
What If You Have Sleep Apnea?
Luckily, you can take steps to improve your quality of sleep despite having sleep apnea. If you drive for a living, taking steps to get restful sleep is a good idea to avoid you having a roadway accident that could hurt you and others on the road. Reducing your risk of sleep apnea is a good idea. Some risk factors that increase your chances of sleep apnea include:
Being overweight can greatly increase your chances of sleep apnea. If you are overweight, you have more tissue in the back of your throat, so when the muscles relax that support that additional tissue, it can more easily block your airway.
If you smoke, you are increasing your chances of sleep apnea. Smoking causes an increase in inflammation in your pharynx (the upper airway) and it causes greater fluid retention in your throat. If you smoke, you may have noticed how you always have a lot of mucous build-up in your throat when you wake up in the mornings, a direct result of the fluid retention that can also lead to upper airway issues and sleep apnea.
During a DOT examination, discussing with your DOT medical examiner about sleep apnea is best, especially if you snore heavily at night and wake up feeling tired. You may be referred to a sleep specialist for diagnosing whether or not you have sleep apnea.Share