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Sleep apnea may lead to work injuries

Tennessee workers who have sleep apnea might want to learn about a small study showing a link between having the disorder and an increased risk of suffering workplace accidents and injuries. The study, conducted in Canada with slightly more than 1,200 sleep disorder clinic patients, showed that people who have sleep apnea have double the risk of workplace injuries than those who don't.

According to the researchers, the types of injuries suffered by those with sleep apnea involved accidents that resulted from not being as vigilant at work, including falls, burns and trips. People who have obstructive sleep apnea wake up many times throughout the night when their airways briefly collapse, but they don't especially remember doing so. They tend to then be tired and feel fatigued during their waking hours.

The American Sleep Apnea Association indicates that around 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, but many are unaware of their disorder. Of the 1,236 people in the study, 994 were diagnosed as having the condition while the remaining people were not. Almost 10 percent of those with sleep apnea had been injured in a workplace accident in the five years before they were screened for the condition. Only 5 percent of those without the disorder had been injured in workplace accidents.

People who often feel tired or fatigued during the day may want to talk with their doctors about the possibility of having sleep disorders. With treatment and better sleep, they may be less likely to suffer workplace injuries. Those who are injured on the job, may want to meet with an attorney to determine whether filing for workers' compensation benefits would be advisable.

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