Recently, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the requirements for sleep apnea treatment for truckers. Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) pushed to make more specific guidelines for sleep apnea testing and treatment, but were blocked by Congress from making guidelines without following the extensive rulemaking process.
However, although rules haven’t really changed, there has been a huge shift in the practices of health examiners around the country since the FMCSA “reminded” them that sleep apnea was a possible source of driver unfitness. Testing for sleep apnea has increased significantly, and so has treatment. Unfortunately, drivers and their doctors may not understand their options for treatment.
Your Treatment, Your Choice
One thing that has come out of the change in practice is a number of significant complaints about the need for CPAP in treating sleep apnea. People have complained that this is a result of regulatory changes, but it’s not. Remember, regulations haven’t changed at all.
Instead, what’s happened is that testing for sleep apnea has increased, and the high number of truckers with undiagnosed sleep apnea has been exposed. Doctors have been prescribing the most commonly recommended treatment, CPAP, but there’s no rule that truckers have to have CPAP.
In the FMCSA bulletin that kicked off this firestorm of testing, the agency explicitly states, “The Agency’s regulations and advisory criteria do not include recommendations for treatments for OSA and FMCSA believes the issue of treatment is best left to the treating healthcare professional and the driver.”
Know Your Options
The problem is that many of the doctors who are now performing sleep tests and making recommendations may not understand that there are multiple, effective treatments for sleep apnea, including oral appliances. For truckers, who may already have enough difficulty sleeping in their berths or other options on the road, it’s vital that doctors find an appropriate, comfortable treatment option. If your CPAP isn’t working for you, you need to explore more comfortable and more flexible options.
Whether you’re a trucker or another CPAP user, and want to learn about more comfortable sleep apnea treatment in Philadelphia, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a sleep dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.