New research from the Cleveland Clinic shows that instances of drowsy driving can be reduced in sleep apnea sufferers who follow nighttime treatment guidelines. Sleep apnea affects up to 25 million American adults, meaning roughly one in five Americans has a mild case, and one in fifteen is affected with moderate to severe sleep apnea. This condition causes the upper airways to collapse frequently while sleeping, resulting in interrupted sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially classified insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic. It follows that drowsy driving is recognized as an important public health risk.
Drowsy driving is very common in people with sleep apnea as a leading cause of fatality. Statistics from 2014 show that 6,400 traffic-related fatalities in the United States were caused by sleep deprivation, accounting for 21 percent of the total fatalities. Many think of drowsy driving as falling asleep at the wheel, but it only takes a second of inattention at high speeds to cause a catastrophic accident. Mild sleep apnea sufferers experience excessive daytime sleepiness, also. In Canada, physicians are required by law to notify the motor vehicle authorities if a patient is suffering from sleep apnea. In the U.S., only two states, Texas and California, have a similar regulation.
The first line of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea sufferers is often a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Patients wear it at night to prevent sleep apnea as it provides increased air pressure in the throat. Cleveland Clinic researchers saw a significant improvement in reported car accidents and near-miss accidents when patients used the CPAP machine.
The results of the Cleveland study were presented at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. Questionnaires from almost 2,000 obstructive sleep apnea sufferers were analyzed, focusing on incidents of drowsy driving before and after CPAP machine use. Dr. Harneet Walia was the lead author of the study stating, “There was a significant reduction in the drowsy driving episodes and this reduction was more pronounced in patients who were CPAP adherent.” Those who used the machine regularly in compliance with the treatment guidelines had the greatest improvement.
According to Dr. Walia, obstructive sleep apnea should be treated by a medical professional because it not only affects driving behavior, but can result in cardiovascular conditions as well. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, pauses in breathing while sleeping, and daytime exhaustion. An overnight sleep study is effective at diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident caused by drowsy driving, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Call Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. for an appointment with an experienced Columbia car accident lawyer who will review your case for free. Our committed team of attorneys will make sure you receive all available financial compensation and medical treatment. Call 866-881-8623 today or contact us online. We have six convenient locations serving residents throughout the state of South Carolina.