Screening for Sleep Apnea

Sleep is a precious commodity. Without adequate sleep the body and mind begin to weaken causing reaction time to wane and senses to dull.

New concern is being placed on the quality of sleep that professional drivers are receiving.  In some instance, the culprit is found to be Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  Companies trucking companies are now taking steps to prevent accidents caused by the condition.

What is OSA?

Getting enough sleep on the road is hard enough without worrying about OSA. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a very real medical condition that prevents people from getting an adequate amount of sleep. It is not unusual for drivers to push through the night forsaking sleep for more time on the road. While this is a dangerous practice drivers who are actually making an effort of getting enough sleep are still experiencing daytime fatigue.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be the cause of this daytime fatigue but many drivers fail to recognize the symptoms or that they even have a problem. The symptoms of OSA include:

  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Depression
  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping during sleep
  • Grogginess
  • Irritability

OSA affects more than 20 million people in the United States. The reasons people suffer from OSA are varied but obesity is one of the leading causes. An unhealthy diet, high stress, and even age all determine who might suffer from this extreme form of sleep apnea.

More and more attention is being paid to the connection of OSA in trucking and roadway accidents. Legislators are beginning to look into this connection and are now forming new laws and guidelines that deal directly with the condition. Lawyers are paying attention as well and are using the condition as possible reasons for accidents. This is causing fleet managers and trucking companies to take action and consider a possible screening process to determine if their drivers are suffering from the condition.

Many trucking companies are looking into OSA screening tools in an effort to cut down accidents and law suits ahead of any possible legislation. They are taking this preemptive actions in an effort to help truckers better understand this ailment so that proper treatment can be given. One easy and new test for OSA screening is the Psychomotor Vigilance Test.

The Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT)

The psychomotor vigilance test (PVT) is being hailed by many as an effective way to determine if a person is suffering from OSA. By determining this patients will then be able to receive proper treatment. With proper treatments drivers who may not have realized that they suffered from OSA in the first place will come to realize that their quality of life has vastly improved.

The PVT takes no longer than 10 minutes and can be done in the doctor’s office. The test measures alertness, reaction time, and attention span of the patient to determine if there is evidence of sleep apnea. The PVT is done quickly and can be interpreted much sooner than other similar examinations. This is making the PVT attractive to fleet managers who understand how detrimental this condition is to the trucking industry and other similar truck driving jobs.


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