Being a truck driver is a lot of work.
You’ll work long hours, sit most of the day and have little time to stretch your legs. Deadlines will become a part of life, and you’ll find, after working for a few years, that your health is suffering.
Sitting is not good for your health.
So, what can you expect in terms of health problems?
Truck Driver Health Issues
There are side effects of being a truck driver. The main side effect is health issues. You’ll experience an array of health issues –or have the potential to have health issues. A few of the health issues that you’ll face are:
- Obesity. Truck drivers are known for being overweight. Lack of movement and exercise is the key reason for truck drivers suffering from obesity.
- Hypertension. When you have hypertension, this is high blood pressure. Going by the definition, this is abnormally high blood pressure.
Now, it’s important to stop right here and explain these two conditions. You see, a study found that 88% of truck drivers will suffer from obesity, hypertension and smoking. Smoking is a personal preference, but the other two are a consequence of your activity level.
Studies find obesity-related hypertension links.
Obesity increases risk of hypertension, and studies find that losing weight is the first line of therapy to treat both conditions. Yes, medical problems caused by stress also include hypertension, and this may be your reason for hypertension.
But if you are obese, you can eliminate many of the health issues of being a truck driver by simply losing weight.
Smarter food choices and increased exercise can help a lot. This might be hard for a truck driver, but if you work for a company that doesn’t demand you drive day and night, walking when you reach a hotel may be an option.
Obesity also increases a truck driver’s risk of heart disease.
This can lead to increased risk of heart attack, too. Finding some way to exercise can lower stress, obesity and hypertension.
And after these two conditions, you’ll also have to worry about:
- Diabetes. The higher risk of diabetes also is linked to obesity.
- Lung Problems. Truck drivers are at a much higher risk of smoking. While smoking can cause lung problems and disease, there is also the risk of inhaling diesel fumes. Hazardous chemicals are also a major problem. Cancer risks, associated with smoking, are also increased.
- Fatigue. Long hours behind the wheel leads to severe fatigue in the industry. When you’re fatigued, you’re also at a higher risk of being in an accident. Fatigue is the key factor in 33% of truck driver accidents.
- Depression. It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to become depressed. Long hours spent alone with little human interaction is the major reason for depression. Some truck driver companies will allow you to bring pets along for the ride. Team options are available in some cases, but if you don’t know the other driver, you may find the conflict adds to your stress.
- Sleep Apnea. Obesity also leads to sleep apnea. This means that you’ll miss a few breaths every minute while you sleep. Sometimes, you may miss 20 breaths or so per minute. Ultimately, the lack of oxygen to the brain can have an impact on your health.
- Stress. A major concern for your health is the amount of stress you’ll be under as a truck driver. It’s not uncommon for the heavy workloads and hectic work schedule to cause a driver to suffer from a lot of stress.
Stress is a health issue that often gets brushed off, but it’s a serious concern. A lot of people believe that stress can lead to disease, and while I am no doctor, there are a lot of conditions that are linked to stress that are worrisome:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Asthma intensity increase
- Diabetes (due to lifestyle changes)
- Alzheimer’s disease
Stress may be able to be alleviated. You’ll want to avoid stimulants or smoking to alleviate stress. Instead, you’ll want to turn to exercise and healthy forms of stress relief. Many fitness clubs, such as Planet Fitness, allow you to use your membership at any location.
Gym memberships may be an option if you want to control your weight and alleviate stress.
There is an association between truck drivers and kidney problems. A major issue is the lack of being able to void your bladder when driving. Holding your urine for too long puts a strain on your bladder and kidneys. There are also some studies showing a link to bladder and kidney cancer in truck drivers.
Truck Driver Accident Statistics
When you’re on the road day and night, there will always be a higher risk of being in an accident. The FMCSA finds that accidents involving large trucks and buses decreased 33% between 2004 and 2009 – a great statistic.
But in 2014, there were still 3,978 large trucks or buses involved in fatal crashes.
Injury crashes rose 21% between 2013 and 2014, with large trucks being involved in 88,000 crashes.
So, you are at a risk of being killed or severely injured in a truck accident. This is one of the key dangers of being a truck driver.
Of course, the road is becoming a safer place. Trucks and cars are now being equipped with blind spot mirrors and there are even warning sensors that alert drivers when someone is in their blind spot.
Common Injuries for Truck Drivers
Truck drivers may suffer injury while on the job, and these injuries can be vast. Anyone can jump out of a truck and break their leg or ankle. You’ll always be at risk of one-off injuries, and these can be virtually anything.
But there are a few common injuries that all truck drivers are at a risk of suffering from:
- Back and Neck. Sitting has a way of causing your neck and back to hurt. A lot of these issues are caused by lack of support. Truckers also need to keep their head up at all times, with little time to look down or to the side.
- Musculoskeletal Injuries. Strains and sprains are part of these injuries. You’ll also be at a higher risk of overexertion. Tendon, joint and muscle injuries are also part of musculoskeletal injuries.
The good news is that you can reduce a lot of the musculoskeletal injuries you suffer from as a truck driver. Proper technique during work is often all that you need to reduce the risk of these injuries. Of course, property safety measures and equipment are also a must.
Truckers have a demanding, dangerous job, and proper equipment can eliminate a majority of the injuries and accidents that occur.
What You Can Do to Reduce Health Dangers
You’ve chosen a career already, and it’s too late to switch.
Trucking is an honest job, but without your health, it’s not going to matter. You can avoid many of the health issues and problems that truckers face by doing just a few things:
- If you’re waiting to be loaded, go on a long walk and stretch. You can even bring resistance bands in your truck. Join a gym, too.
- Load up on healthy snacks. It’s easier to go out and get fast food, but it’s going to destroy your health. If you eat healthier, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight.
- If you’re stressed, anxious or depressed, seek help. There is help out there. Regular doctor checkups can also help.
Don’t forget to socialize, too. If you have a break, video chat a friend and find ways to have fun. You’ll be surprised by how just a little fun can eliminate your stress and loneliness.