As a dentist specially trained in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) I took keen interest in a recent policy change announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In short, the FAA plans to force obese pilots and air traffic controllers to be screened by a sleep specialist before receiving their medical certificate to work. On Nov. 19th FAA flight surgeon Fred Tilton announced that pilots with a Body Mass Index over 40 or a neck circumference of more than 17 inches will have to be checked. The concern lifted by Tilton is OSA which he states “is almost universal in obese individuals”. In February of 2008 two Go! Airlines pilots fell asleep on their flight between Honolulu and Hilo, Hawaii overshooting their destination by 26 miles. The obese captain was later diagnosed with OSA.
OSA is a condition characterized by blockage and/or obstruction of the airway by relaxed soft tissue such as the tongue or soft palate resulting in a temporary cessation of breathing. One of the classic signs of OSA is excessive daytime sleepiness.
In the face of these realities the FAA is acting in defense of the America’s flying public. It is also estimated that somewhere between 30-50% of highway accidents are secondary to dozing related to OSA. These realities leave me wondering how and when we also begin addressing these same concerns among the drivers of America’s semi-trucks and buses.
Do you or one of your loved ones experience excessive daytime sleepiness? Has anyone told you that you snore when you sleep? OSA is a life-threatening medical condition. It has ties to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, dementia and cancer. If you have concerns, be sure to contact our Mason office today so we can explore further whether these concerns have merit.
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.