Each industry requires its employees to be in excellent health, especially when handling heavy-duty equipment and machinery. Physical and mental health evaluations are a vital component in hiring new employees to reduce the risk of industrial accidents.

If you’re scheduled for a standard DOT physical exam soon, this guide will tell you what to expect and provide tips to help you prepare.

Understanding the DOT Physical

“DOT” stands for the Department of Transportation, which mandates health and safety assessments for all aspiring and long-term drivers.

Passing a DOT physical demonstrates that you have no physical or mental impairments that could compromise your driving ability. Thus, you become eligible to drive commercial vehicles and transport industrial goods nationwide.

This examination is critical not just for the drivers but also for other road users’ safety. If you’re about to face a DOT physical and want to pass, understanding what to expect is vital. So, what does a DOT physical exam entail?

An Overview of the DOT Physical Examination

The DOT physical examination considers your present and past medical history, so being well-prepared is crucial. Here’s an overview of what the examination involves:

  1. Vision Test

Drivers must have 70″ peripheral vision and 20/40 acuity in each eye. Corrective lenses can be used if needed to meet these standards.

  1. Hearing Test

Hearing is also essential, with drivers needing to hear a “forced whisper” from a distance of 5 feet, even with the aid of a hearing device.

  1. Blood Pressure and Heart Health Check

Inform the doctor about any hypertension history and medications used to manage it. The exam will also check your heart rate for irregularities.

  1. Urine Testing

Contrary to popular belief, this test isn’t for drugs but to detect sugar and protein abnormalities indicating diabetes or kidney issues.

  1. A Thorough Physical Exam

The examination includes a thorough check of your ears, eyes, mouth, heart, lungs, and spine. Vascular function and neurological alertness are also assessed.

Do You Need to Renew a DOT Physical?

Every two years, commercial drivers must renew their DOT physicals to confirm they’re still in good health and able to operate a commercial vehicle safely.

If conditions such as stage one hypertension are present, the DOT certification must be renewed annually.

Regular checkups every three months are required for those with stage two hypertension to ensure the condition is well-controlled.

If you take medical leave at any time in your career, you may be required to undergo a new DOT physical. This depends on the reason for your medical leave, significantly if it impairs your ability to work safely.

Preparing for Your DOT Physical

For the complete physical to run smoothly, you must arrive prepared.

Remember to bring all necessary medical paperwork, a list of current medications, your driver’s license, and your doctor’s name and address. Here are six tips to help you ready yourself:

1. Lower Your Caffeine Intake 24-Hours Beforehand

Lowering your caffeine intake is a good idea if you suffer from hypertension. This includes coffee, energy drinks, and soda. Caffeine increases blood pressure levels, which could affect the outcome of your physical.

2. Lower Your Salt Intake a Week Beforehand

Salt also plays a significant role in affecting your blood pressure levels. It can also have a negative effect on your cholesterol. Try to lower your salt consumption for a week before your DOT exam.

3. Arrive Extra Prepared for the Exam

Aside from your list of medications, paperwork, and eyeglasses, arrive at your exam with a full bladder. This will help with a strong and clear urine sample. Allow yourself time to fill out the paperwork clearly, don’t rush. Make sure you take all your necessary medications before the DOT physical.

4. Don’t Eat a Huge Meal Beforehand

Like salt and caffeine, a sizeable greasy meal will not look good in your urine. It will spike your sugar levels and raise alarm bells concerning diabetes. Try to eat a smaller, lighter meal before the physical exam.

5. Stay Calm

Some people tend to suffer from “white coat syndrome” when they enter a doctor’s office. This is characterized by anxiety and a raised heart rate. Try to remain calm and breathe deeply. This will keep your heart rate steady.

6. Get a Second Opinion if Necessary

If you feel like your results did not accurately represent your health, there’s no harm in getting a second opinion. The same goes for the competency of the doctor running the examination. A second opinion could make all the difference!

What If You Fail the DOT Exam?

Failure doesn’t mean the end of your journey to becoming a commercial driver. Discuss options with your doctor about improving certain conditions through treatment.

Programs are available with the FMCSA for those with disabilities, diabetes, and vision and hearing impairments.

Where to Get a DOT Physical?

Nicola Chiropractic in Las Vegas is your local go-to for DOT physicals. Alongside DOT and CDL exams, we offer a range of chiropractic treatments for personal injury, workplace injury, impairment physicals, and more.

Contact our team to schedule your next DOT physical today.


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