Medical Sleep Apnea

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427
A few days ago I was told by my dentist I have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea: Snoring, excessively worn teeth and signs of teeth grinding, frequently waking up at night, and a jaw alignment that could restrict airflow. He recommended that I do an at home sleep study to follow up. I’ve read that it can be a disqualifying medical condition by a flight surgeon. Have any of you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea while in the FAA? How was your medical impacted? If your medical was pulled did you get it back? If so, how? Thanks!
 

Typeass

Trusted Contributor
Messages
200
A few days ago I was told by my dentist I have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea: Snoring, excessively worn teeth and signs of teeth grinding, frequently waking up at night, and a jaw alignment that could restrict airflow. He recommended that I do an at home sleep study to follow up. I’ve read that it can be a disqualifying medical condition by a flight surgeon. Have any of you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea while in the FAA? How was your medical impacted? If your medical was pulled did you get it back? If so, how? Thanks!
My advice. If you need it then do it but it will take some toll on your medical. Your health comes first, cant do this job of you're not alive. I believe its temporarily disqualifying not permanent. Are you in the agency already?
 
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427
My advice. If you need it then do it but it will take some toll on your medical. Your health comes first, cant do this job of you're not alive. I believe its temporarily disqualifying not permanent. Are you in the agency already?
I’m training in the agency already. I haven’t been diagnosed with it yet, but he sounded pretty confident that I would be if I did a sleep study. He told me if it is a mild case, it’s possible a mouthguard could solve my problems without a CPAP. I don’t know how the FAA would feel about that though. The worst part about this is I’m 27. I’m sure these problems don’t improve with age!
 

SharkBait

Trusted Contributor
Messages
385
I had it before coming into the FAA, all the flight surgeon wanted was a letter from my sleep doctor showing my usage (I was below what the faa required) and a letter from me saying I would use it a minimum of 6 hours a night, 70% of the time from now on. No issues or hold ups, i would imagine your would be the same if it was a recent diagnosis.
 

Typeass

Trusted Contributor
Messages
200
I’m training in the agency already. I haven’t been diagnosed with it yet, but he sounded pretty confident that I would be if I did a sleep study. He told me if it is a mild case, it’s possible a mouthguard could solve my problems without a CPAP. I don’t know how the FAA would feel about that though. The worst part about this is I’m 27. I’m sure these problems don’t improve with age!
Call the natca medical line. The doctor will tell you everthing you can and cant do and his suggestion anonymously. Anytime i feel like going to a doctor will jeopardize my medical or being prescribed something new i call and make sure.
 

Mike Kilo

Legendary Member
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2,574
I’m training in the agency already. I haven’t been diagnosed with it yet, but he sounded pretty confident that I would be if I did a sleep study. He told me if it is a mild case, it’s possible a mouthguard could solve my problems without a CPAP. I don’t know how the FAA would feel about that though. The worst part about this is I’m 27. I’m sure these problems don’t improve with age!
Get the mouth guard and try that out first, especially since he thinks it might cure it. I had my dentist throw one together for me just due to teeth grinding and my dental care covered it. I wouldn’t mess with the FAA/Flight Surgeon unless I had to. Are you having issues getting rest? Like noticeable where it is affecting your training?
 

Shikaka

Legendary Member
Messages
2,570
A few days ago I was told by my dentist I have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea: Snoring, excessively worn teeth and signs of teeth grinding, frequently waking up at night, and a jaw alignment that could restrict airflow. He recommended that I do an at home sleep study to follow up. I’ve read that it can be a disqualifying medical condition by a flight surgeon. Have any of you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea while in the FAA? How was your medical impacted? If your medical was pulled did you get it back? If so, how? Thanks!
Mine was pulled when I was diagnosed, I waited about two weeks to get the CPAP machine, then had to have 30 days of compliant use (4+ hours for 70% of nights). Total was about a month and a half, I just had to email a statement from my doctor saying it was working and the compliance data and had my medical about 30 minutes later.

Honestly I slept better too.
 
Messages
427
Get the mouth guard and try that out first, especially since he thinks it might cure it. I had my dentist throw one together for me just due to teeth grinding and my dental care covered it. I wouldn’t mess with the FAA/Flight Surgeon unless I had to. Are you having issues getting rest? Like noticeable where it is affecting your training?
He asked me if I was having issues with concentration or drowsiness during the day. I haven't had any noticeable issues with that. I have noticed is the teeth grinding and sometimes waking up with a headache as a result, and waking up frequently at night. I have been told that I snore pretty loud, but I have never had anyone tell me I was gasping for air or stopping breathing which can sometimes happen. I might have them make the mouthguard first and if that doesn't solve the problem, I'll get the sleep test done.
 

Ad1234

Trusted Contributor
Messages
389
For the flight surgeon With the mouth guard, you will have to prove that you have sleep apnea and that the mouth guard makes it better. Once you do that, a simple yearly statement saying you feel rested and it works is all that they will require. Where as a cpap you have to provide the numbers from the machine or whatever.

My suggestion would be to get the mouth guard first, for teeth grinding purposes, don’t report it of course because you don’t have to report that. then get tested for sleep apnea which will require a sleep study, do this at home not at a facility. This will be a one night test, then you’ll do a second test with the mouth guard in, proving that it prevents the sleep apenea. Get a doctor to write a statement the mouth guard works. Submit the diagnosis and the statement from the doctor. You won’t be DQed, you’ve now reported it to the faa which is a requirement, and you’ve solved your apnea all at the same time
 
Messages
427
For the flight surgeon With the mouth guard, you will have to prove that you have sleep apnea and that the mouth guard makes it better. Once you do that, a simple yearly statement saying you feel rested and it works is all that they will require. Where as a cpap you have to provide the numbers from the machine or whatever.

My suggestion would be to get the mouth guard first, for teeth grinding purposes, don’t report it of course because you don’t have to report that. then get tested for sleep apnea which will require a sleep study, do this at home not at a facility. This will be a one night test, then you’ll do a second test with the mouth guard in, proving that it prevents the sleep apenea. Get a doctor to write a statement the mouth guard works. Submit the diagnosis and the statement from the doctor. You won’t be DQed, you’ve now reported it to the faa which is a requirement, and you’ve solved your apnea all at the same time
Sounds like a solid plan. I may ask my NATCA Area rep if this is the best way to approach it just to make sure, but it seems legit to me.
 

Mike Kilo

Legendary Member
Messages
2,574
For the flight surgeon With the mouth guard, you will have to prove that you have sleep apnea and that the mouth guard makes it better. Once you do that, a simple yearly statement saying you feel rested and it works is all that they will require. Where as a cpap you have to provide the numbers from the machine or whatever.

My suggestion would be to get the mouth guard first, for teeth grinding purposes, don’t report it of course because you don’t have to report that. then get tested for sleep apnea which will require a sleep study, do this at home not at a facility. This will be a one night test, then you’ll do a second test with the mouth guard in, proving that it prevents the sleep apenea. Get a doctor to write a statement the mouth guard works. Submit the diagnosis and the statement from the doctor. You won’t be DQed, you’ve now reported it to the faa which is a requirement, and you’ve solved your apnea all at the same time
He isn’t been diagnosed so no requirement to report. If the mouth guard shows you improvement then it ends there. If you feel a little more rested and wake up less etc.

I wouldn’t do any tests (in home or otherwise) or report anything unless YOU decide yourself that you need further help.

I wouldn’t tell anyone at work. FacRep or otherwise, especially if you decide to try the mouth guard first. If you want to go and do the tests for sleep apnea then that’s a different animal and it wouldn’t hurt to check with your FacRep.
 

GulfBravoPapa

⭐SuperStar
Messages
1,617
If you do a sleep study at the VERY LEAST you have to report it at your next physical and I'm betting the flight surgeon will be pissed you didn't report it earlier. I've known a few controllers who did sleep studies and all lost their medical for about a month because all came back with having sleep apnea and had to show how routine cpap usage helped before they could get their medical back.
 

Shikaka

Legendary Member
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2,570
I dont know if I've ever seen someone take a sleep apnea test and not get put on a CPAP, I think everyone has it to a certain degree
They say most people have it, yet a CPAP isn't required until a certain point at which it moderately affects your health. Around 15 and higher apnea incidences an hour.
 

slim

Trusted Contributor
Messages
236
Also, I think if you get your medical pulled, you won’t get anymore EA and would have to use your own sick leave. Usually they would give you some other duties around the facility to keep your paycheck coming in, but right now, that will most likely not happen.
 

Ad1234

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Messages
389
For the
He isn’t been diagnosed so no requirement to report. If the mouth guard shows you improvement then it ends there. If you feel a little more rested and wake up less etc.

I wouldn’t do any tests (in home or otherwise) or report anything unless YOU decide yourself that you need further help.

I wouldn’t tell anyone at work. FacRep or otherwise, especially if you decide to try the mouth guard first. If you want to go and do the tests for sleep apnea then that’s a different animal and it wouldn’t hurt to check with your FacRep.
AnyTrafficPleaseAdvise.
While the fear of talking about this I don’t understand, they make some good points. Always If you Absolutey need the advice from a trusted source besides us trolls then go ahead.

I did exactly as I described above. I got the guard for teeth grinding that’s no bull shit. I reported this at my flight physical and came prepared with a dentists note stating it’s for teeth grinding. Never reported this to rfs. I then slept without it for a bit and was exhausted and had my heart checked about 2 years later for something separate which indicated to the cardiologist I might have sleep apnea. This I waited to report. I took the test with and without the mouth guard. Was diagnosed after the test. At this point if I were negative for apnea I would not have reported The test, if it was that alone not in combination with my heart issue. Because of my Heart issue I submitted paperwork as described above describing I have apnea and my teeth grinding guard solves the problem to an acceptable amount in the cardiologists opinion with documentation to prove that. The faa took it and did nothing further other than instruct me to report every year at physical time that it’s still working. That was it, and it was so easy. Taking the test is not and should not be an issue for the faa nor do I believe you have to report it other than saying you went to the doctor. Only if you are diagnosed or have other issues that need clearing up, if that is the case just get a note from the doctor saying the test was negative prior to reporting it makes things so much smoother. This is where I feel people hate the flight surgeon because they say I went to the cardiologist with no background, so of course the flight surgeon is gonna have questions. If you answer them while reporting, in mine and others experiences, things go much smoother.

If you take the test and you don’t have sleep apnea problem solved but if you do take it because you feel it necessary to be tested, go for it. I sleep a ton better and I did what was required and solved a medical problem.
 
Messages
427
Also, I think if you get your medical pulled, you won’t get anymore EA and would have to use your own sick leave. Usually they would give you some other duties around the facility to keep your paycheck coming in, but right now, that will most likely not happen.
That does add another element to this for sure. I just stayed at home on EA as a trainee for 8 months. If i get my medical pulled I would probably get sent home and could have the possibility of losing currency. I don't want that additional headache either. Don't get me wrong, I understand sleep apnea could turn into more serious issues down the road, but I need to make my money too.
 

Shikaka

Legendary Member
Messages
2,570
Also just my usual opinion for anything involving your medical, your health us pretty damn important. A moderate or serious apnea issue causes some severe health conditions far earlier in life than normal. You should make your health the top priority.
 
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