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Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Treating Sleep Apnea – A Good Idea for Truckers

According to a recent study, treating obstructive sleep apnea is beneficial to truck driver’s health and their health insurance budget. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds. After examining the insurance claims records of 156 truck drivers who received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and other treatments for sleep apnea, researcher Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, found that health plan costs decreased by an average of $2,700 in the first year and another $3,100 in the second year. The study also tracked 92 drivers that did not get treatment for their sleep apnea diagnosis and found that their health cost remained constant.

The study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that the drivers who were not treated for sleep apnea missed more days and racked up more short-term disability costs than those that were treated. While sleep apnea affects work productivity, it also affects health. Addressing OSA in the workplace offers the possibility of early identification and intervention for a chronic disease that is associated with increased health benefit utilization,” explained the research team.

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

  • Lose weight. If you are overweight, this is the most important action you can take to cure your sleep apnea (CPAP only treats it; weight loss can cure it in the overweight person).
  • Avoid alcohol; it causes frequent nighttime awakenings, and makes the upper airway breathing muscles relax.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking worsens swelling in the upper airway, making apnea (and snoring) worse.
  • Some patients with mild sleep apnea or heavy snoring have fewer breathing problems when they are lying on their sides instead of their backs.

Learn more about the study and about sleep apnea, and feel free to pass the information along.

Image photographer: graur razvan ionut

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