Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that affects about 4% of the general population. However, as those in the trucking industry are aware, it affects around 35% of truckers in West Virginia and across the U.S. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, occurs when a person’s throat muscles and mouth palate relax and collapse, occasionally blocking the upper airway and interrupting sleep.
With OSA, a person cannot enter into deep sleep and REM sleep, the result being that he or she will remain both physically and mentally fatigued the following day. Truckers with OSA, then, are bound to be drowsy behind the wheel, becoming a hazard to themselves and to other drivers. They should know, then, how to recognize OSA and see a doctor if they suspect they have it.
The basic symptoms of OSA are loud snoring and a continual gasping for air during sleep. One may feel excessively tired in the morning or wake up with headaches. One may also experience attention problems, irritability and depression. High blood pressure and diabetes can be connected to OSA as well.
Basic treatments include the use of a mandibular advancement devices, which are specially designed mouthguards, and the use of a CPAP machine, which deliver air pressure through a mask. Surgery is another option.
Whether truckers have a sleep disorder or not, it is wrong to drive while drowsy. When truck driver negligence is clearly the cause of a crash, those who were injured may be able to file a personal injury claim. In West Virginia, plaintiffs can recover damages if they contribute less than 50% to an accident. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case before anything. Having legal representation might also make negotiations smoother and avert the need to litigate.