Driving and Snoring By Craig Schwimmer, MD

No, it’s not a country song – it’s a potentially deadly combination. Loud snoring is the hallmark of sleep apnea, a disease from which an estimated 18 million Americans suffer. And yet another study has shown that people with untreated sleep apnea are likely to be dangerous behind the wheel. A recent study from University Hospital in Leeds compared people with sleep apnea to people without sleep apnea on their ability to safely complete a 90 kilometer driving simulation. The drivers were evaluated for their ability to follow instructions, stay in the middle lane, and avoid unprovoked car crashes. The drivers who had sleep apnea were twice as likely to fail the test, as were drivers who didn’t have sleep apnea.

Given the public health implications of these findings (do you really want to share the road with someone with untreated sleep apnea?), it is terribly concerning to note that only about 10% of people with sleep apnea are diagnosed and treated.

So if not for your own health, then for the safety of those around you, if you snore, please get checked for sleep apnea. With new home based testing, it’s more convenient and less expensive than ever, and there are also many more ways to treat sleep apnea than in the past.

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