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Sleep apnea and trucking: Often a dangerous mix

What is sleep apnea? This condition is a sleep disorder affecting the ability to breathe properly while sleeping. It results in short instances in which the patient's breathing is interrupted during sleep. The interruptions can last more than 10 seconds each and can occur as many as 400 times in a sleep cycle. The condition is often undiagnosed and has the potential to be life-threatening.

Sleep apnea has many symptoms including loud snoring, choking or gasping while sleeping, reduced sex drive, depression and irritability. However, two of the condition's symptoms are particularly disturbing in patients who drive large commercial vehicles. These two symptoms are "excessive daytime sleepiness" and "concentration and memory problems."

Common sense will tell you that excessive sleepiness and poor concentration can definitely cause truck driver fatigue. If left undiagnosed and untreated, drivers with sleep apnea are at a great risk of having a truck accident, which could injure the driver as well as other motorists.

Truck drivers with a sleep apnea or other potentially dangerous medical condition are not allowed to drive. The good news is that there are treatments available for sleep apnea, which can put these drivers back to work safely.

Recent studies have shown that nearly one-third of the nation's truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea. Getting treatment keeps everyone in Virginia and elsewhere safer. To those who have already been injured in a truck accident, learning that the truck driver suffered from untreated sleep apnea could have a positive impact on your case. Ask a personal injury lawyer for more information about how preexisting medical conditions may affect your truck accident case.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Driving When You Have Sleep Apnea," accessed May 17, 2017

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