Before commercial truck drivers receive the all-clear to hit the road, they need to undergo a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam to ensure the driver is medically able to operate a commercial vehicle. This exam must be completed once every two years to ensure all drivers operating commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs are medically certified.
While a sleep study isn’t always included in the DOT approval process, medical examiners can enforce one if it is suspected that the driver has a sleeping disorder. Let’s take a look at what commercial truck drivers are evaluated on during the DOT physical, and if sleep apnea is suspected, how the driver can test for the sleeping disorder at home.
What Medical Examiners Look for When Evaluating Drivers for DOT Approval
During these exams, the medical examiner will perform multiple tests including hearing, vision, and blood pressure. A urinalysis will also be completed to check the driver for drugs in their system. This test also checks the individual’s protein, sugar, and blood and will help the examiner find any abnormalities that might require further testing.
Along with these tests, the driver will also undergo a physical examination where the examiner looks for abnormalities in their ears, eyes, throat, etc.
There isn’t a required test for sleep apnea during the exam. During the testing, the driver will need to confirm if the following is true: "Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely.” If they have a history of sleeping disorders, it must be disclosed.
If medical examiners have reason to suspect that there is sleep apnea, truckers will have to undergo a sleep apnea test in order to gain DOT approval. This sleep study can be administered in a lab or at home.
How Truck Drivers Can Test for Sleep Apnea at Home
If it’s determined that the commercial truck driver needs to undergo a sleep apnea test, they have the ability to do this at home with a home sleep study from ApneaMed. With this at-home method, the driver will receive the home sleep test and instructions for administering an overnight unattended test.
While sleeping in the comfort of their own bed, the device will track their heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen levels. It will also be able to record how often their body moves during their sleep. Once the self-administered home sleep test is complete, the commercial driver will mail back their results, or upload their data online depending on which type of unit was used. This will then be analyzed by one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians.
The physician will be able to determine if, in fact, the driver has sleep apnea — and if they do, the severity of their sleep apnea. If a truck driver has moderate to severe sleep apnea, they could be disqualified for the role. In most cases, the physician will provide a recommended treatment such as a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP).
ApneaMed Provides CPAP Therapy Equipment for Truck Drivers
If CPAP therapy is the recommended treatment, the driver can get the equipment they need from ApneaMed. ApneaMed offers AutoPAP machines that work similarly to CPAP but the device has the ability to readjust pressure as needed. The APAP machine will keep the driver’s airways open while they sleep by providing self-adjusted air pressure throughout the night — allowing them to get a deeper more sound sleep.
If you have any questions about ApneaMeds’ at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment, contact our team to learn more.