Sleep Apnea And Your CDL Physical—3 Things To Know

Anyone who operates a large vehicle is required to obtain a special type of license known as a CDL. The government maintains strict requirements for these licenses. A commercial vehicle can become a serious safety hazard when the driver is compromised. Sleep apnea is a condition that can affect a driver's ability to remain alert and aware while behind the wheel.

Whether or not you have received a sleep apnea diagnosis, you will need to work closely with a sleep center to ensure you meet the requirements to pass your CDL physical examination.

1. The Government Screens for Risk Factors

It's not only the drivers who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea that will need to take special precautions in order to pass the CDL physical exam. The government recognizes that there are certain risk factors that can increase the possibility of a person having sleep apnea. If you present with one or more of these factors, you could be required to visit a sleep center for testing before your CDL can be issued or renewed.

Some of the risk factors to be aware of include obesity, a thick neck, and a family history of sleep apnea. The medical professional conducting your CDL physical exam will be the one who determines if a sleep study is required.

2. You Must Receive Treatment

If you have previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea or you are diagnosed after undergoing a sleep study as part of your CDL physical exam, you must receive treatment. For most people, sleep apnea treatment includes the use of a CPAP machine that helps to maintain open airways throughout the night. Your doctor may also prescribe medications or suggest lifestyle changes to help alleviate your sleep apnea. Failure to receive the recommended treatment could cause you to lose your CDL designation.

3. Your Treatment Must Be Documented

It's not enough to say that you are following a treatment protocol, you must be able to document your participation if you want to retain your CDL. The medical examiner responsible for completing your CDL physical will want to see evidence of your treatment. This evidence can include a receipt for the purchase of a CPAP machine, bills from a sleep center, or a signed journal documenting your use of a CPAP machine. Without this evidence, the medical examiner may choose to temporarily suspend your CDL designation until you can provide the proper documentation.

Contact a local sleep center to learn more.