Sleep Apnea Treatment for Truck Drivers

Depending on individual risk factors, many truck drivers and others who need commercial driver’s licenses are often required to take sleep tests as part of their mandatory physical to qualify for a CDL. If you have failed a physical because of untreated sleep apnea, our experienced sleep apnea dentist, Michael Fulbright, DDS, offers a number of treatment options designed to address this common sleep disorder and help you safely get back on the road.

A study sponsored by the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that sleep apnea, whether mild or severe, affected more than 28 percent of commercial truck drivers. Sleep deprivation and sleep apnea among truck drivers can be very dangerous because symptoms can include daytime sleepiness and impaired cognitive function, making a driver less alert and less quick to react. These symptoms and risks of sleep apnea can ultimately increase the chances of an accident while driving. With successful treatment for CDL drivers diagnosed with sleep apnea, these risks can be reduced, which can make it more likely that they will meet the requirements for their physicals.

Truck Driver

Below, you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about CDL drivers affected by sleep apnea. If you would like more information, or if you would like to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Fulbright to explore your sleep apnea treatment options, please contact us today.

Does sleep apnea disqualify you from a CDL?

While it depends upon the particulars of each unique case, a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea does not necessarily result in permanent disqualification from obtaining a commercial driver’s license—as long as effective treatment has taken place.

Can you drive a commercial vehicle with sleep apnea?

Those who are diagnosed with mild sleep apnea may not be designated as medically unsafe to drive a commercial vehicle; however, individuals diagnosed with moderate to severe levels of sleep apnea may be disqualified until they obtain treatment for the condition.

Can you be fired for having sleep apnea?

Based on the Americans With Disabilities Act, a driver’s employer cannot fire or refuse to hire an individual for having sleep apnea if they are being effectively treated for the disorder. However, the employer may not allow the individual to continue driving company vehicles if the driver has an untreated condition, such as sleep apnea, that could hinder their ability to operate them safely.

Can I still drive with sleep apnea?

In some cases, states determine their own rules regarding CDL drivers with certain medical conditions and the level of severity for those conditions, so the regulations may differ between various regions of the country. With that in mind, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations, drivers who have been disqualified from obtaining their CDL due to sleep apnea may be able to regain their commercial license if successful treatment for the condition has been obtained.

What Are the Treatment Options for a CDL Driver Who Has Sleep Apnea?

Treatment techniques for sleep apnea have become more advanced and versatile over the years. While CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices are still effective sleep apnea treatments for many patients, there are new options that can provide more convenient and more comfortable ways to keep air flowing through breathing passages at a normal rate while sleeping. Oral appliance therapy can often be an ideal treatment for individuals who may not need CPAP therapy to effectively address sleep apnea. It can also be utilized in a “co-therapy” approach for patients who may benefit from both techniques. A customized oral appliance can help the jawbone and soft tissues maintain a healthy position while sleeping, working to prevent the narrowing of air passages. These options resemble orthodontic retainers and often serve as a very convenient alternative for drivers since they are more travel-friendly and do not involve bulky equipment.

Dr. Fulbright can talk with you about your condition and evaluate your needs during the initial consultation. He will be happy to answer any questions you may have and determine the ideal sleep apnea treatment option for you. To learn more about sleep apnea and available treatments that can effectively reduce symptoms, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact Fulbright Sleep & Snoring Solutions today.