OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA AND DROWSY DRIVING

A simulation study by Dr. Akshay Dwarakanath, Dr. Mark Elliott, and colleagues at St. James’ University Hospital in Leeds, U.K., to show the risk for people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was presented. The presentation was before the European Respiratory Society International Congress. A driving simulator was used that measured the ability of the driver to stay in his or her lane.

The study looked at 129 people with untreated OSA and 79 people without OSA. The 79 without OSA used the simulator once. The 129 with untreated OSA used the simulator twice. Again, the simulator measured the ability of the driver to stay in his or her lane. 20 percent of the people with untreated OSA failed the test while none of the people without OSA failed the test. And the amount of variation in the ability to stay in the lane as well as the amount of deviation from the lane was much worse in the 20 percent. The authors of the study said that people with untreated OAS have an increased occurrence of accidents over twice that of people without OSA.

But, there is hope; OSA is treatable! If you snore and have daytime tiredness or wake up unrefreshed, you should be tested for OSA. Testing is easy in your own home with a home sleep test unit. Treatment may be able to be accomplished with a simple oral device you wear at night and not that “mask.” Check out my website at NwSleepDoc.com to see details on the health effects of untreated OSA as well as details on treatment.