I have sleep apnea – can I still get a DOT medical card?

Of all the problems that affect our health, sleep is one of the most misunderstood. What we know is that sleep matters – it is important in promoting healing and giving your brain time to rest. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can negatively affect your mental and physical health, according to the National Institutes of Health. That is one of the reasons there are limits to how much driving you are allowed to do as a commercial driver.

However, there’s a great deal of confusion about the impact of an increasingly common problem affecting sleep these days: sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep condition that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. In other words, sleep apnea means that you stop breathing multiple times while sleeping. As a result, your body and brain do not get enough oxygen and you wake up feeling unrested. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a large neck (over 17 inches for men and 16 for women)
  • And more.

What is interesting is that neck circumference and age have become shorthand for some DOT medical examiners to commission a sleep study during your physical before issuing your medical card. What does that mean if you’re getting a DOT physical Wellington?

DOT Physical West Palm Beach and Sleep Apnea

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has not issued guidance or rules for medical examiners to automatically commission a sleep study in the case of sleep apnea or existence of risk factors for sleep apnea.

Medical examiners, like those doing your DOT Physical in Wellington, may still refer potential drivers to a sleep study if they suspect sleep apnea could be affecting the individual’s health and would prevent them from operating a commercial vehicle safely. Most likely, it will not be based only on neck circumference, but will take into account other risk factors or stated symptoms. After all, it is the medical examiner’s responsibility to ensure that drivers are medically fit.

Remember, during DOT physical in West Palm Beach, our doctors are focused on ensuring patients meet the minimum federal criteria. However, your employer could have more stringent requirements. If you need to get your DOT physical without hassle, come to Urgent Care of the Palm Beaches. We have three locations across the Palm Beach area to make it easy for you to maintain your CDL!