Treating Sleep Apnea – A Good Idea for Truckers

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April 26, 2010

According to a recent study, treating sleep apnea is beneficial to truck driver’s health and their health insurance budget. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine , the official publication of the American College of Occupational and

 Environmental Medicine. The study found that drivers who were not treated for sleep apnea missed more days and racked up more short-term disability costs than those that were treated.

After examining the insurance claims records of 156 truck drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure ( CPAP) therapy and other treatments, researcher Dr. Benjamin Hoffman found that health plan costs decreased by an average of $2,700 in the first year and by another $3,100 the next year. The study also tracked 92 drivers that did not get treatment and found their health cost remained constant.

Lifestyle changes are an effective way of mitigating symptoms of sleep apnea. Here are some tips that may reduce apnea severity:

  1. Lose weight! If you are overweight, this is the most important action you can take to cure your sleep apnea. CPAP therapy only treats it. Weight loss can potentially cure it.
  2. Avoid alcohol. It can cause frequent nighttime awakenings and makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax.
  3. Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway which can make apnea worse.
  4. Try lying on your side. Some patients with sleep apnea or heavy snoring have fewer breathing problems why they are lying on the sides.