Flu Season is Knocking

Flu season overlaps with the National Basketball Association’s season—roughly November through March.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “the flu,” as we commonly generalize it, finds its way to make millions of Americans sick (or worse) every year.  This raises the question then as to whether you should get a flu shot to help reduce your odds of getting ill.

Even though the CDC recommends an annual flu shot or other option for anyone over the age of 6 months, in many cases, the decision personal.  While most medical professionals follow the CDC recommendation, especially for patients at a higher risk of contracting the illness, it is fully understood though that there are good arguments on both sides of the flu shot debate.  This article is not meant to advocate for either side, but rather to inform you that we make flu shots available to our patients who want them.

It is important to understand though that getting a flu shot is no guarantee that you will not get the flu.  Such is entirely possible; however, CDC evidence suggests though that the flu vaccine may help reduce severity of the illness among those who still contract it post-vaccination, reduce hospitalization, and may reduce spreading among family members and others.  A good source of additional information can be found here

The flu vaccine is not without potential side effects.  In fact, for those get an annual flu shot, including this author, it is not uncommon for the recipient to experience mild fever, nausea, and muscle aches.  In my case, those symptoms normally go away within a day or two without the need to miss work or regular activities.  

If you decide that you want a flu shot, we are here.  We are open seven days per week and have vaccines available at both locations in Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach.  No need to make an appointment, just come see us during office hours when it is convenient for you.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Commercial Drivers

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that causes breathing pauses or shallow breathing during sleep.  Left untreated, the condition may increase risk for a variety of heart-related conditions, obesity, and stroke.  It’s a medical condition that the United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) takes very seriously—including whether commercial drivers who have this condition should be medically cleared.

In a 2012 FMCSA report, medical examiners are provided with two paths related to an OSA diagnosis.  First, a driver is to be immediately and unconditionally disqualified or denied medical clearance if: the driver admits to excessive sleepiness during the major wake period while driving; the driver has experience a sleep-related crash; or the driver has been non-compliant in OSA treatment.  Second, drivers may be conditionally certified if one of the following three conditions are met: the driver has an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of greater than 20 until compliant with positive airway pressure (PAP); the driver has undergone surgery and is pending post-op findings; or the driver has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 35 kg/m2 pending a sleep study.

Conditional OSA certification timelines are important for drivers to manage.  In this regard, the FMCSA provides the following:

  1. A driver with a BMI of greater than or equal to 35 kg/m2 may be certified for 60 days pending sleep study and treatment (if the driver is diagnosed with OSA).
  2. Within 60 days, if a driver being treated with OSA is compliant with treatment, the driver may receive an additional 90-day conditional certification.
  3. After 90 days, if the driver is still compliant with treatment, the driver may be certified for no more than 1 year.  Future certification should be dependent on continued compliance.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million American adults suffer from OSA or other form of sleep apnea.  Drivers included in this population should take an OSA diagnosis seriously and, if not automatically disqualified, should maintain strict compliance with the conditional certification timeline.  

Our certified medical examiners will engage drivers in an extensive interview related to sleep habits and driving history.  For OSA suffering drivers who we are able to conditionally certify, we will work with you on a plan that has a goal of maintaining certification.

Is your DOT physical due?  No need to make an appointment.  Just come see us during office hours 7 days a week in New Smyrna Beach or Ormond Beach.