Driving with Sleep Apnoea

Car Crash

If you have obstructive sleep apnoea or suspect you do, then understandably you may be worried about driving a vehicle and the implications it has for your driving licence.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleeping disorder closely linked to snoring. People who snore have a partially blocked airway that causes the snoring noise. People with sleep apnoea have an airway that regularly becomes blocked during sleep and causes the sufferer to stop breathing. This deprives the person of deep restful sleep and results in excessive daytime sleepiness.

If you sufferer from obstructive sleep apnoea studies have shown you are 6 times more likely to die in a car crash. The chances of you being involved in a road traffic accident are doubled, this is the same as if you were driving whilst drunk.

If you are diagnosed as having obstructive sleep apnoea you need to inform the authority that has issued your driving licence. When informing them they will want to know the details of your doctor and specialist who is helping you deal with this condition. They will also want to know if you are receiving treatment, if the condition is under control, and if you are now free from excessive daytime drowsiness.

If you have a standard driving licence for a car or motorcycle, you can continue driving when your condition is confirmed as being under control by a medical person. If you have a driving licence for commercial vehicles such as lorries, you will need the same confirmation that the condition is under control, plus ongoing treatment and regular licencing reviews.

The good news is that obstructive sleep apnoea is simple to treat. Sufferers can use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or a mandibular advancement device (MAD).

The CPAP machine is a face mask with a hose connected to a pump that keeps the airway open using pressurized air. It can take some getting used to and tolerance is understandably an issue for some people. Once you have become used to it patients report a marked improvement in the way they feel in the mornings.

An MAD is an oral device which looks much like a sports mouth guard. It is designed to hold the lower jaw and tongue forward in what is known as the 'recovery position'. In this position the airway is kept open and the the sleep apnoea is effectively treated.

Mandibular advancement devices are relatively new compared to CPAP machines but their use is becoming more widespread. Due to the fact that so many patients cannot tolerate CPAP or balk at the mere idea, in some countries mandibular advancement devices are the first line of treatment for mild and moderate cases of sleep apnoea. Studies have shown that patients prefer MAD therapy to CPAP. Patients with severe sleep apnoea are normally recommended to use CPAP, but if they cannot tolerate it they can use an MAD as an alternative.

Traditionally MADs have been made from plastic. This has resulted in them being bulky and uncomfortable for patients to wear. Though still more preferable than a CPAP machine. Recently Somnowell has launched a new MAD made from chrome cobalt alloy, the same material used to make high quality dentures. The use of chrome cobalt alloy has enabled the device to be much smaller than plastic devices and longer lasting.

Image courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.