Until recently, it was thought that somewhere around 6.4% of truck driver have sleep apnea. A new study found that the real number could be closer to 30%. And the majority of them may not even know it.
It’s not just snoring. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can have a dramatic impact on those who suffer from it – and on those close to them. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can cause numerous health problems. Truckers with untreated OSA are a significantly greater risk to themselves and those around them.
The new study comes from researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. This study used the so-called STOP-BANG method of screening. Patients are given a questionnaire where they fill out information on Snoring, Tiredness during the day, Obstructive apnea, Blood pressure, Body mass index, Age, Neck circumference, and Gender (STOP-BANG).
Patients are given a STOP-BANG score based on their answers. Those who score above a certain threshold would be referred for sleep apnea testing.
Currently, the only sleep apnea screening required is a single question on trucker medical exams. But many drivers may not know if they have symptoms. Others may be aware, but know that an OSA diagnosis can lead to requiring a CPAP machine or other equipment that some see as burdensome.
According to the Virginia Tech researchers, 49% of truck drivers on the road right now would be flagged for further sleep apnea testing if they filled out a STOP-BANG questionnaire. Their research suggests that a significant portion of them would be diagnosed with OSA. As many as 30% of truck drivers could have OSA.