Truck driving is a unique profession that, just like virtually any other job, has the potential to cause a variety of types of health issues for those that choose this career. While some of the health issues related to trucking are due to the long hours of sitting and driving, others are more related to lifestyle choices that tend to be common with the industry.
Many trucking companies recognize that some of these lifestyle choices are at the heart of many of the most common health issues diagnosed in trucks. They are providing programs, support and incentives for trucks to make a few simple changes in their exercise habits, diet and lifestyle that will lead to a decreed risk of these health issues developing.
Obesity in the trucking industry is not just a risk; it is one of the most significant issues that is seen in the profession. Obesity is usually a combination of eating the wrong types of foods; those that are highly processed, sugary and fatty, and not getting enough exercise. Often truckers eat two or more meals a day at fast food places, truck stops or diners. The good news is that many of these types of restaurants are now providing healthier options in the form of whole wheat bread, salads and fresh fruit and other healthy snacks. However, it is important that truckers know to make that choice and to limit their take of the less healthy options.
Obesity itself is a trigger for the next three health issues on this list. The more weight that your body carries the more your cardiovascular system works, the greater your risk for developing pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, and the higher your risk is to have an injury when you are loading, unloading, or climbing around the truck to secure a load.
High Blood Pressure And Cardiovascular Disease
High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is particularly problematic since there may not be any signs until it is a significant health issues. Heart attack, stroke or poor circulation leading to other health complications are common the longer that truckers work in the industry.
To make matters worse many truckers that know that they have these conditions avoid taking prescription medications for the health issue because of their license. This creates a larger risk of a serious condition such as a stroke or heart attack occurring, especially if high blood pressure is known or suspected.
Pre-diabetes And Diabetes
Pre-diabetes and diabetes Type 2 do not prevent a driver from operating a truck provided that blood sugar can be controlled by diet and oral medicines. With the new regulations you may also able to drive if you have Type 1 diabetes provided you meet the requirements for an exemption.
Pre-diabetes is when the blood tests show levels of glucose that elevated but not yet in the range to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. The good news is at this point changing diet and lifestyle can often reverse the problem and prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.
Back, Neck And Muscle Pains
Strains, sprains and damage to the back, neck and joints are common in the trucking industry. This is partly a combination of the heavy loads that trucks are often required to move combined with their sedentary jobs behind the wheel. Truckers do not take the time to stretch out before using major muscle groups, increasing their change of injury. Repeated injury, especially to the neck, shoulders, lower back and knee can results in significant and chronic types of aches and pains.
It is estimated that between 33 and 46 percent of all adults, and slightly higher in males, experience some type of sleep problems. This includes waking up multiple times in the night or having difficulty in staying awake in the day even if they believe they had a good night's sleep.
Sleep apnea, which causes disruptions in breathing during the night, is one of the most common sleep problems. In this condition your breathing actually stops for a few seconds due to a collapse of the airway. Snoring may also be a sign of a sleep disorder but it is not always present.
People that have difficulties sleeping are more prone to distraction, inattention and falling sleep in the day. Sleep apnea has also been linked to increasing risk of vehicle accidents.
Depression is a common mental health problem in the entire population. However, the isolation of the trucking job combined with obesity and other health issues may be linked to a higher rate of depression in the trucking industry.
Other factors may be difficulties in balancing the work and family life due to pressures from the job, irregular schedules and stress on the job that all contribute to the risk of developing depression.
Understanding the most common health issues in the trucking industry can help truckers proactively make changes. Staying fit and healthy, making the right food choices and making time for regular exercise on the road are all recommended as ways to avoid these issues for a healthier life.