As with all professions, professional and long distance drivers also have their attendant health risks. The nature of the job often involves staying awake for hours, a largely sedentary lifestyle, and bad habits acquired as a result of boredom. All of these factors contribute to the risk of developing one or more of the following health conditions.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Recent studies and estimates show that between 7% and 21% of all professional drivers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition often results in sleep deprivation because drivers are often unable to get enough rest at night. OSA causes intermittent seized breaths which result in drivers struggling to breathe or having to jerk repeatedly awake every few minutes at night.
This consistent waking and sleeping often interferes with REM sleep that is responsible for the deep relaxation and rejuvenation required by the body. Not getting adequate REM sleep, therefore, often results in tiredness, weakness, foggy brain, and little to no mental alertness. All of these are dangerous conditions are capable of causing the driver to sleep of behind the wheel, thereby posing a significant risk to other road users, his passengers, and himself.
Strokes and Arteriosclerosis
Usually as a result of blood clots and hardened arteries, drivers are more likely to develop these because of their lifestyles. Smoking, stress, inadequate sleep, junk consumption, alcohol, and little or no exercises all add up to cause strokes in drivers.
This is, usually, brought on by the unhealthy lifestyle choices of most drivers. Most drivers develop heart attacks and heart-related conditions because of their sedentary lifestyle and food choices. The average driver eats a lot of junk, soda, alcohol, smoking and a sedentary life. All of these, usually, result in high blood pressure. Prolonged high blood pressure of course results in heart attacks because the heart can only take so much strain and stress.
The average driver spends hours in the sun, smokes when he gets a chance, and abuses his body with junk, soda and not taking a “leak” when he should. About 67% of all professional drivers smoke. Moreover, since multiple studies have directly tied smoking to lung cancer, it makes sense that drivers who smoke are at high risk of developing lung cancer.
For those who drink more of soda and eat junk instead of drinking more water and eating more fruits and veggies, doing this exposes them to the risk of developing kidney or liver cancer. The body has to find ways to eliminate all the toxic wastes in it. Moreover, two of the most critical organs are the liver and kidney.
Both organs require fluids to function well (the kidney is an osmo-regulator while the liver gets rid of the toxins). The lack of this compromises their functions and results in nerve and organ damages which can further improve the chances of abnormal cancer cells developing.
The average trucker spends hours sitting down all day. That combined with poor food choices naturally result in rapid weight gain and obesity. Multiple studies have indicated that almost seven out of ten drivers are overweight while half are obese. Obesity alone is responsible for a multitude of health conditions. Little wonder obese drivers often have other associated health conditions.
Like it or not, most professional drivers are predicable. This is primarily due to their sedentary lifestyle and their eating habits. Drivers who go without having their blood sugars checked and having a physical are likely to become diabetic if they keep consuming foods with high sugar content without working off the excess. Professional drivers often develop diabetes because their pancreas has been so overworked that it stops producing insulin or doesn’t produce enough to convert the carbs to energy.
As you can see, these major health issues can be avoided if drivers chose to live healthier, exercise more and get the necessary medical checkups they need. So, do the smart thing and get healthy.
Oscar King is a former trucker who now does freelance writing about related health topics and issues. Back in his trucking days when he was back home and needed to get his physical recertification, he paid a visit to work flow orlando to set up his appointment. To learn more about Oscar you can visit him on Google+.
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