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The health condition that's putting American drivers at risk

In the world of commercial trucking, time is money. Truck drivers are expected to drive massive vehicles hundreds of miles with limited time to rest. We've explored the topic of truck driver fatigue extensively on this blog, but long hours and strict demands are just one part of the equation.

Safety experts are learning more about trucker fatigue and its roots. Specifically, the link between trucker fatigue and a condition called sleep apnea has been a hot-button issue in the trucking world in recent years.

Sleep apnea basics

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when air is blocked in the upper airway until air flow is significantly reduced or completely stopped. This lowers oxygen levels in the brain, which causes the affected person to wake up suddenly.

This disrupts sleep, which causes insufficient rest - especially among truck drivers who are expected to log hundreds of miles per day. And, as we know, fatigued truckers often lead to one thing: potentially deadly collisions.

Sleep apnea can be difficult to identify. Obesity is a common health issue among commercial truckers, and it is sometimes linked to apnea. However, many truckers with "normal" BMI are also affected by the condition.

The Ohio doctor trying to make the trucking industry safer

A sleep expert from our home state of Ohio may lead the next frontier of sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, according to the trucking industry publication Overdrive. As the son of a truck driver, he has used his unique understanding of the industry to develop an oral appliance that relieves OSA.

However, not all treatments work for everyone. It is essential that truck drivers take the best possible care of themselves and find apnea treatments that work for them - particularly when the well-being of everyone on the road is at stake.

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