The 4 Most Common Trucker Health Problems (And Avoiding Them)

Truck driving represents a solid, engaging career for many people. But to maintain a high level of safety and efficiency, these drivers must stay in excellent health. This undertaking proves difficult for some drivers due to the temptations of gas station food and the realities of long hours behind the wheel.

If left unmanaged, trucking-related health problems can affect every aspect of a driver’s life, including his or her ability to handle long hauls. Luckily, truckers have a standard physical exam which detects many of these health issues.

Between each of your Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exams, monitor your own health. Look for signs of any of the four common issues listed below so you can head off any problems before they have time to develop.

1. Heart Disease

As you began your driving career, you probably noticed that the restaurants along your way predominately served high-fat, high-calorie foods. These foods offer flavor at low costs, but fast food coupled with hours of sitting can lead to heart disease. For some drivers, the development of heart disease eventually leads to heart attacks.

You may notice neck, jaw, and chest pain as an early sign of heart disease. The condition can also cause swollen legs and ankles, fatigue, and heartburn.

How to Avoid Heart Disease

Simple healthy habits can prevent heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure and weight, get regular exercise, and monitor any chronic conditions like diabetes to avoid heart disease.

2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure poses such an issue for truckers that the DOT tests for the condition during each physical exam. Your blood pressure directly affects your certification time length. If you have hypertension, or a blood pressure above 140-159 systolic and/or 90-99 diastolic, you may only receive certification for a single year. More advanced hypertension could disqualify you completely.

In addition to concrete numbers, you may notice irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds, and shortness of breath if you have high blood pressure.

How to Avoid High Blood Pressure

Your doctor will probably prescribe blood pressure medication to control hypertension. However, your prevention should focus on healthy choices. To prevent high blood pressure, keep your weight at a healthy level, eat nutritious foods, and minimize the amount of alcohol you imbibe.

3. Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. This obstructive condition results in extreme or persistent fatigue, difficulty concentrating, snoring, and difficulty breathing during sleep.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

The correct amount of sleep can reduce the effects of sleep apnea. For ideas to improve your sleep, read our blog “Strategies for Better Sleep on the Road.” Your doctor may also recommend medication or weight loss to treat your apnea.

4. Sun Exposure

As you drive across the country, your left side spends a lot of time in the sun. This extensive exposure can result in sunburn, skin discoloration, wrinkles, and even skin cancers.

If you notice an uneven tan or the presence of sunburn, you have received too much sun.

How to Prevent Sun Exposure

To minimize the effects of sun exposure while on a haul, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or apply sunscreen to your left side. You may also have the option of placing a tinted film on your driver’s side window.

 

Trucking offers you a reliable job, hours for learning or entertainment, and a sense of everyday adventure. Monitor your health for signs of any of the above issues to protect your body and your occupation.

With some minor changes, you can ensure that the road ahead of you stays safe and clear. For more information about trucker health, industry tips and tricks, and getting the most of your vehicle, read our other blog posts.

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