Excessive Snoring and Deadly Driving—Find Out if You Have Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which causes problems with breathing during sleep. In serious cases, it can lead to injury or even death during the sleep. More generally, sleep apnea is known as a cause of snoring, difficulty staying asleep, and insomnia.

You wouldn’t normally think of sleep apnea as a danger for drivers. But because of the way sleep apnea reduces the amount (and quality) of an individual’s sleep, it often makes it harder for them to pay attention to road conditions while driving. That’s why people who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related accident. If you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea, it’s important that you find out and seek medical help as soon as possible.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

There are many signs of sleep apnea, some of which are more serious than others. Because this is a sleep condition, it will be a good idea to ask your partner (or anyone who sleeps near you) whether you exhibit the following symptoms:

·         Loud snoring

·         Breathing cessation during sleep

·         Sudden awakenings with shortness of breath

·         Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat

·         Headaches after waking

·         Insomnia

·         Feeling sleepy during the day

·         Wandering attention

·         Irritability.

 

The above are the more minor signs of sleep apnea. Contact a medical professional if you experience any of the following:

·         Snoring loudly enough to prevent others from sleeping—or even loudly enough to wake yourself up

·         Extreme shortness of breath and choking that wakes you from sleep

·         Pauses in breathing during sleep

·         Daytime drowsiness that seems excessive (this is the symptom that leads to dangerous driving conditions when an individual with sleep apnea is behind the wheel).

Dangers of Driving with Sleep Apnea

The main dangers of driving with sleep apnea come from decreased daytime attention and the danger of becoming drowsy (or even falling asleep) at the wheel. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely than other drivers to be in a fatigue-related accident, even if they have a mild form of the condition.

Many drivers with sleep apnea can honestly say they’ve never fallen asleep at the wheel. Even if this is true, they are still more likely than other drivers to be in a fatigue-related crash. You don’t have to be asleep at the wheel to get into a crash. As we all know, it’s important to be very attentive when driving, and sleep apnea makes it difficult for many drivers to do that.

However, this doesn’t mean a sleep apnea diagnosis means you can’t drive anymore. Drivers who suffer from a mild form of sleep apnea may drive normally—once they get medical help to ensure their “medically-qualified-to-drive” status.

Driving Safely if you Have Sleep Apnea

The most important step to ensure safe driving if you have sleep apnea is to make sure you get your condition treated. An individual with moderate to severe sleep apnea must receive treatment in order to make sure he or she is in condition to drive.

In other words, the best bet for drivers who suspect they may have sleep apnea is to get treatment from the doctor. A medical professional will be able to treat the condition in a way that will give the sleep apnea sufferer the chance to get a handle on his or her condition. This will not only make sure the individual is able to be a safer driver, but also reduce the chance of severe damage or even death coming as a result of a nighttime sleep apnea episode.

 

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