Truck Driver Safety Can Be Compromised by Serious Health Issues
We’ve all seen 18-wheelers drift onto the shoulder and wondered what was going on in the cab. Was the driver looking at a map? A phone? Eating? Lighting a cigarette? Drowsy? Truck drivers get tired driving long stretches of highway for hours on end, and there’s no doubt exhaustion is a real danger. Linked to exhaustion for many drivers is sleep apnea, which, along with high blood pressure and diabetes, is a prominent health problem experienced by truckers. Each of these health problems can lead to unsafe driving behavior.
Sleep apnea is the most common health issue among truck drivers. The condition is marked by the collapsing of the upper airway, which periodically stops the breathing process and forces the brain out of restorative sleep to resume breathing. These sleep interruptions typically result in excessive daytime sleepiness, which can result in dozing off at inappropriate times, difficulty in concentrating, and attention lapses. Warning signs a person may notice indicative of the disorder include frequent urination at night, morning headaches, shortness of breath, waking up with a dry mouth, and a general difficulty staying asleep. A sleeping partner might notice loud snoring or that the sleeper frequently pauses breathing and then makes choking or gasping noises.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, refers to a condition when the heart has to work extra hard to force the blood against the artery walls with each heartbeat. Generally, the lower the number, the better. High blood pressure can lead to more serious problems such as eye damage, brain damage, and heart attack. In fact, truck drivers can be denied a commercial license if their blood pressure is not under 140/90, but medical certification may not even be done annually.
The inability to transform sugar into energy due to defective insulin is the hallmark of diabetes, another issue that plagues many professional truck drivers. In the most common type of diabetes (Type 2), the body produces faulty insulin that can’t move the glucose into the cells. Left uncontrolled, diabetes can cause a number of complications, such as weakness, fatigue, confusion, and vision problems.
The good news is that all three of these ailments are largely preventable. The most effective method for curing sleep apnea is to lose weight. In addition, alcohol relaxes the muscles in the neck, making them more likely to collapse, and smoking causes tissue inflammation, further restricting the airways; therefore, limiting alcohol and cigarette consumption can make a big difference. Medication can help keep blood pressure at healthy levels, but there are more natural ways to keep the heart working properly, such as exercise, general stress management, and eating fewer salty foods.
Like sleep apnea and high blood pressure, diabetes can be averted, controlled, and even reversed with a few lifestyle changes. Because high blood pressure and being overweight can be precursors to diabetes development, lowering blood pressure with diet and exercise reduces the risk of diabetes. Eating more fiber and fewer sweets, eating smaller portions, and making healthier food choices are all effective ways to condition the body to work properly. Unfortunately, the risk factors for developing these conditions are widespread among truckers, due in part to their sedentary lifestyle and tendency to eat unhealthy fast food while on the road.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, are the survivor of a someone who was killed by a negligent driver, or have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by experienced Louisiana vehicle wreck attorney Chris Roy Jr, founder of the Chris J. Roy, Jr. Law Firm. Having practiced law for nearly 30 years, he takes pride in helping accident victims in Alexandria, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Grant Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Allen Parish, Vernon Parish, and throughout Central Louisiana. Benefit from his assistance and knowledge by contacting the firm for a free initial consultation. Call 1-318-487-9537 to get help today.