Mar 18

Car AccidentWhat role does Obstructive Sleep Apnea play in driving drowsy?
Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the dangers of text messaging while driving. While extremely dangerous, I believe that there is another aspect of driving that is even more frightening. It involves falling asleep at the wheel and getting into an automobile accident. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 Sleep in America™ poll, the odds a driver 18 or older has ever nodded off or fallen asleep while driving are 1 in 2.78. And the odds a licensed adult has had an accident or near-accident due to drowsiness in the past year are 1 in 50.

What is the cause of being overly sleepy? Many point to the increased workloads at school and at work, increased amounts of stress at the job. I would like to bring up the ever increasing problem with weight that has hit America, and consequently the increased prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that involves a collapse of the upper airway. This results in a decreased amount of oxygen that is available for the body to use. Several of my other blog posts have dealt with the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. So, I won’t cover it again here.

What can we do to combat the ever increasing problem of drowsy driving?

I think that one really needs to pay close attention to the quality and quantity of sleep. If you sleep with someone else, you can ask that person if he/she ever notices if you snore or stop breathing while sleeping. If you have any of the signs or symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, see a physician that is well versed in treating people that have sleeping and breathing disorders. If you feel too tired to drive, don’t do it. Take a cab, have someone else drive instead, or go back to sleep. It’s far better than killing yourself or someone else.

From a national perspective, the toll from drowsy driving accidents is enormous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver fatigue causes at least 100,000 crashes reported to the police annually, resulting in about 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries each year.

If you live in the Orlando, Florida area visit Dr. Zach Hodgins of Winter Park,FL 407.647.1744. He is a dentist that treats patients that have been diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea. He also treats patients that have severe sleep apnea and cannot tolerate a CPAP. The treatment involves making a custom fitted sleep apnea mouthpiece.

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