Blog posts from November 2020

Drowsy Driving and your CPAP: Asleep at the Wheel

What do the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and nearly 100,000 police-reported car crashes every year have in common? Sleep deprivation and fatigue. Drowsy driving and sleepiness are common causes of both traffic crashes and workplace accidents. The cost of people not getting enough sleep is billions of dollars a year. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has declared insufficient sleep to be a public health problem. 

Sleepiness associated with untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a common cause of drowsy driving. A recent study found that 2-3% of drivers are habitually sleepy while driving. In another survey, 4% of respondents reported falling asleep while driving during the previous month. It’s common for sleep apnea patients to report fatigue — or even falling asleep — while driving. 

One study published by the American Thoracic Society journal explored whether patients with sleep apnea were at increased risk for drowsy driving. They found that habitually sleepy drivers were over 13 times more likely to have an accident. People involved in car crashes were 8.5 times more likely to have moderate to severe sleep apnea.

Studies also show that drowsy driving is an all-too-common problem in commercial drivers. This can come from two factors: sleep deprivation from long hours and the challenges of sleeping on the road, and an increased incidence of sleep apnea compared with the general population. Commercial drivers with sleep apnea may have to provide evidence of treatment to retain their license.

A landmark trial highlighted this issue. In this case, a truck driver pleaded guilty to two cases of vehicular homicide. The driver had a sleep apnea diagnosis but refused to use his CPAP machine as prescribed. The crash took two lives and the driver was sentenced to six months in jail.

The message is clear: follow your physician’s prescription for treatment if you have sleep apnea. Reduce daytime sleepiness by using your CPAP as prescribed. Healthy sleep will help you be better-rested and safer on the road.

Why should you replace your CPAP supplies?

Why should you replace your CPAP supplies? When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? What about your contact lens case? You regularly replace items like these so they function properly, aren’t covered in bacteria, and can help keep you healthy.

Your CPAP supplies are no different! A frayed and worn toothbrush no longer effectively cleans your teeth and gums. Masks, headgear, and other disposable supplies also have a limited lifespan and should be replaced on schedule. Regular replacement of your CPAP supplies is essential for optimal comfort and proper operation of your CPAP or BiPAP device. Even with routine cleaning, normal usage results in the breakdown of these supplies and may lead to a number of problems.

For example, normal facial oils can cause the soft mask seal to deteriorate. This can cause irritating leaks that might make your CPAP therapy less effective. In response to these leaks, people will often tighten the straps, which can lead to irritation, soreness, and redness of the nose and upper lip. Leaks into the eyes can also be irritating. Routine replacement of the mask and seals will help to minimize this problem. 

Another reason to replace your CPAP supplies is preventing infection. Regular replacement of disposable supplies, along with proper cleaning according to your provider’s instructions, will help to minimize the potential for germ growth in the tubing and mask. 

Finally, changing the filters on your machine is important for the proper operation of your CPAP device. Operating your device with dirty filters causes it to run warm and puts extra stress on the machine, causing it to wear out faster. 

In order to prevent such problems, your insurer has established a replacement schedule for your supplies. We will ship supplies for you to replace according to the schedule established by your insurance company.