Sleep Apnea – Do you have it?


Do you get sleepy during the day? Do you snore? Are you a little on the heavy side? Then yea you probably have some sort of “sleep apnea” it is not that uncommon. In fact more than 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and it is estimated conservatively that ten million remain undiagnosed. Truckers are especially prone to having “sleep apnea” because of the lifestyle, and eating styles, plus truckers get less exercise because of driving all the time.

I was diagnosed with “sleep apnea” in 1996, so I have lived with this for a long time. I scared myself driving is the reason I went to the DR to see what was wrong. I actually fell asleep driving my tractor-trailer up the highway, going to work one early morning. I woke up just in time to see the flashing red lights of a school bus, that was PICKING up kids. When I got stopped my truck had slid past the bus halfway of the total distance of the bus. I made a u-turn at the first place I could and headed home, and then to the DR.

The Dr. said I most likely had “sleep apnea” and set me up for a “sleep study” with a sleep specialist. If you have never had a “sleep study” done, it is not very pleasant, especially when you have to try to sleep.
Here is what you will basically look like after you have been “wired up” for the test.

Although, I just recently had another “sleep study” done, and their methods of attaching all the lead wires has changed, they no longer use tape on the face, it is some sort of glue that can be washed out with warm water after the test is complete. It now does not hurt to remove the leads anymore. But, it is still a pain the ass to try to sleep hooked up to all those wires.

My first “sleep study” was done at a hospital that was more than two hours away from my home. Back then “sleep apnea” was not that common, so no places existed. Now seems like there is a “sleep lab” on every corner. I remember the technician told me, that I had to have 8 episodes of “sleep apnea” in one hour to qualify for a cpap machine. I went to sleep and the tech came in and woke me up after 1/2 hour and said I had already had 86 episodes of the apnea, and he was going to put me on the machine.

Again if you have never been hooked up to a cpap machine this is basically what it looks like.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP works by gently blowing pressurized room air through the airway at a pressure high enough to keep the throat open. This pressurized air acts as a “splint.” The pressure is set according to the patient’s needs at a level that eliminates the apneas and hypopneas that cause awakenings and sleep fragmentation. Pressure that is too low will not be as effective in eliminating the apneas and hypopneas. CPAP is the most effective method for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It can sometimes be hard to use, but any complaints about the comfort of the machine or mask can usually be addressed easily.

This worked for a little while, I had never slept better. I was full of energy, felt better. But, my pressure was so high and I had to wear the mask so tight in order to prevent air from escaping, in results of defeating the purpose of wearing the CPAP machine. My ENT Dr, suggested having the surgery for a treatment. The intention of surgery is to open the airway sufficiently to eliminate or to reduce obstructions to a clinically insignificant level. In order to do so, surgical therapy in adults often must reconstruct the soft tissues (such as the uvula and the palate) or the bony tissues (the jaw) of the throat.

The most common surgery for sleep apnea is the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP procedure, which is intended to enlarge the airway by removing or shortening the uvula and removing the tonsils and adenoids, if present, as well as part of the soft palate or roof of the mouth. (The uvula is the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of the roof of the mouth, I also had a Tonsillectomy and Septoplasty, all done within the same surgery. I don’t recommend this to anyone, it hurt for a long time, and it took a while for me to heal and return to work.


* Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.

* “Apnea” is a Greek word meaning “without breath.” An apnea is clinically defined as a cessation of breath that lasts at least ten seconds.

* “Hypopnea” also comes from Greek: “hypo” meaning “beneath” or “less than normal” and “pnea” meaning “breath.” A hypopnea is not a complete cessation of breath but can be defined as a perceptible reduction in airflow that leads to sleep fragmentation or to a decrease in the oxygen level in the bloodstream.

* The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) or respiratory disturbance index (RDI) refers to the total number of apneas and hypopneas divided by the total sleep study in a patient’s sleep study. The AHI gives one measure of the severity of the sleep apnea.

* There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed (a combination of obstructive and central). Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common.

* Typically the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes the airway, forcing victims of sleep apnea to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep, as frequently as a hundred.

* Although the typical sleep apnea patent is overweight, male, and over the age of forty, sleep apnea affects both males and females of all ages and of ideal weight.

* The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness (i.e., falling asleep easily and sometimes inappropriately).

* Untreated sleep apnea can be life threatening; consequences may include high blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications.

* More than twelve million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and it is estimated conservatively that ten million remain undiagnosed.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

* Some studies have shown that a family history of sleep apnea increases the risk of OSA two to four times.

* Being overweight is a risk factor for OSA, as is having a large neck. However, not all with sleep apnea are obese. For more information, read Sleep Apnea and BMI: The Majority of OSA Patients Are Not Obese.

* Sleep apnea is more likely to occur in men than in women.

* Abnormalities of the structure of the upper airway contribute to sleep apnea.

* Sleep apnea may be more common among African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Mexicans.

* Smoking and alcohol use increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

* There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea. The most appropriate treatment depends on an individual’s medical history and the severity of the disorder.

* Treatment regimens included lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, oral appliances, and surgery.

* Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. The CPAP machine pushes air through the airway at a pressure high enough to keep the airway open during sleep.
This fact sheet was provided by: American Sleep Apnea Association

Drivers, this is a real problem, and the FMCSA is considering these problems. The good news is there are treatments.

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | |Truck Drivers News Facebook
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One Response to Sleep Apnea – Do you have it?

  1. Curtis Collins says:

    Many drivers are hesitant to speak with their doctors about their sleeping habits or sleepiness out of fear that this may affect their ability to continue driving their truck. With the use of in-home testing devices, drivers are now able to get tested for sleep apnea in the comfort of their own home or in the cab of their truck while still making their deliveries. Proper treatment and compliance monitoring to ensure treatment is being effective allows drivers to eliminate the affects of sleep apnea and continue to safely operate their trucks. Aeroflow Healthcare works directly with drivers, companies, and medical examiners to ensure no unneccessary time is spent away from the road while getting tested and treated for sleep apnea.


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