Diabetes 101: Knowing the Types, Symptoms and Impact on CDLs
November is American Diabetes Month, and according to the 2014 National Survey of Long Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury, commercial truck drivers face a 50% higher prevalence of diabetes than the national average. The results are not surprising. The commercial trucker's lifestyle tends to limit healthy food choices and provides little opportunity for physical activity. Commercial truck drivers not only face declining health due to diabetes, but also the possibility of financial loss due to FMCSA regulations for driving with the disease. Because diabetes is a progressive disease, its effects worsen over time. This underscores the need for effective control of the disease soon after diagnosis. Read more to learn about types of diabetes, its symptoms, and regulations governing commercial driving with the disease.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (TD1) was previously known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that create insulin. TD1 is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and accounts for only 5-10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 1 diabetics MUST get insulin through either injections or an insulin pump as their bodies no longer naturally produce insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (TD2) was previously know as adult-onset diabetes or non insulin-dependent diabetes. It occurs when the body cannot use insulin quickly and develops a resistance to insulin. TD2 is more prevalent that TD1 and accounts for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes. This type of diabetes can occur at any age. African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and elderly populations are especially at risk for developing TD2. Unlike TD1, TD2 can be controlled with diet and exercise in many cases. More severe cases of TD2 may require treatment with insulin injections or medication.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Both types of diabetes exhibit similar symptoms before diagnosis: constant thirst, frequent urination, blurry eyesight, and weight loss or gain with no change in eating habits. If left untreated, symptoms will worsen and cause complications with major organs and extremities including the skin, eyes, kidneys, feet, nerves and heart.
Applying for CDL Diabetic Exemption
Since 2005, FMCSA regulations have required all commercial drivers who use insulin to control their diabetes (whether TD1 or TD2) and participate in interstate commerce have an exemption for driving with the disease. Drivers must have been on insulin for at least one month prior to submitting an application for TD2. For TD1, drivers must have been on insulin for at least two months prior to submitting an application. Once complete, the FMCSA has up to 180 days to rule on the status of an application. When a tentative decision is made on an application, the FMCSA publishes a notice in the Federal Register, giving the public 30 days to comment on the application. At the close of the comment period, the applicant receives notice of the agency's decision. If approved, the exemption is good for a period of two years. Sources: American Diabetes Association, National Survey of Long Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury