I just read an interesting blog post on truck driver health at HealthTrucker.com, and the author said that when she visited her doctor for a routine physical she was told that she was at risk for two common health problems facing truckers: Diabetes and Sleep Apnea. Results of the tests the doc ordered showed she was suffering from both.
That made me think about why people in our industry would be so at risk from these conditions. And after looking into a little bit, I realized everyone should watch for the warning signs of these truck driver health problems and take steps to correct them before it’s too late.
Is Diabetes in your future?
Why are truckers so susceptible to diabetes? I headed to the official website for the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org), and looked at the risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes. That’s the one affecting millions around the world right now.
And those risks include:
- People who are overweight
- People over the age of 45
- People who do not exercise regularly
- People with high blood pressure
- People with low HDL cholesterol or high blood pressure
Raise your hand if you drive a truck and have more than one of these risk factors. Yup. A lot of raised hands out there...
It’s part of the lifestyle of the job. You are sitting for long periods of time. That leaves little time for exercise. Meals at truck stops and on the run tend to be, well, less than healthy. Lots of meat, greasy fried foods and starches. That all contributes to expanding waistlines and pounds of excess fat. Add in the pressures of driving a rig, and you have a perfect storm of Diabetes risk.
That needs to change. First, we all need to realize how important truck driver health is and get checked by our doctors. Then, we need to start making some changes to our lifestyles. Making time to exercise when on the road. Or after a delivery. Eating healthier meals, even if it means bringing food on the road. And stay tuned for next week’s post, I’ll have some tips for how to exercise and the best choices for food to bring.
Sleep Apnea? So that’s what that is...
I admit I’d heard of Sleep Apnea but didn’t know exactly what it was. So I looked it up on the National Institutes of Health site and it is:
“a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.
This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.”
Sound familiar to anyone? What’s one of the leading causes for Sleep Apnea? Being overweight. (It’s a vicious circle...) Apparently the extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of your windpipe, making it harder to keep open when you’re lying down. Without the airflow, your blood oxygen level drops, signaling your brain to disturb your sleep. Over and over, all night long.
I don’t have to tell you how important being rested is for a trucker, so if you’re finding yourself tired during the day, and not getting restful sleep, see your doc about taking a test for Sleep Apnea. (There is no blood test, or way for your doc to know if you have it during regular office visits.)
Above all, if you’ve got those extra “road pounds” around your middle, start working to get them off. And you’ll reduce your risk for these two common truck driver health problems.