Our Own Weight Problems Could Also Endanger the Lives of Others

Published:March 27th, 2010

[BBC News Health] – Falling asleep while driving is just one of the many dangers that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) can provide, as OSA is greatly linked to obesity.

OSA is popularly associated with snoring, breathing pauses, gasping and choking while at sleep. More often than not this causes a lot of people to be depressed, irritable, forgetful, and it greatly increases the risk of falling asleep while driving.

Obesity is a big factor largely because extra fat near the airways could very well block the muscles supporting the breathing passages – therefore blocking the air breathed during sleep.

A study was conducted and conclusively proved that people with severe sleep apnoea were 15 times more likely to be involved in a driving accident.
Britain’s sleep experts believe that drivers with sleep apnoea could well reach about 80,000, and the figures may just increase given the under-reported driving difficulties and incidents for fear of losing their licenses, jobs, or livelihood.

About four cases were presented in UK courts pertaining to drivers who caused death by dangerous driving. These drivers were lorry drivers who drove large cargo vehicles carrying large volumes of food and other goods. All four of the accused were discovered to have suffered from sleep apnoea – only after the terrible accidents have already caused death.

Though a driver’s license cannot be nullified on the basis of obesity and sleep apnoea alone, it is still prudent to consider the importance of weight loss (to minimise OSA) and to ensure safe and sleepless driving – to stay away from road collisions that could well be avoided.

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