COMMON HEALTH ISSUES

While there are many health issues that plague professional trucks drivers, three are prevalent: high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes. 

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries as your heart beats. High blood pressure can lead to a great risk of chronic conditions and diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, eye damage, etc. And, high blood pressure (at or above 180/110) can prevent professional drivers from getting a commercial driver's license.

Blood Pressure Readings

Systolic Blood Pressure 

(top number)

      

Diastolic Blood Pressure 

(bottom number)

       

Category 

Below 120

 

Below 80 

 

Normal blood pressure 

120-139

 

80-89 

 

Pre-hypertension

140-159 

 

90-99 

 

Stage 1 hypertension 

160 or higher 

 

100 or higher 

 

Stage 2 hypertension 



Getting Healthy

If you have high blood pressure, it's not too late. Blood pressure can be lowered with exercise, managing stress, reducing sodium intake and drinking and smoking less. Learn more about techniques to lower blood pressure naturally

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea—the most common health issue among truck drivers—is where the upper airway collapses when you sleep, which blocks the airway, depriving the body of oxygen. Sleep apnea disrupts sleep, causing dangerous driving fatigue.

Common risk factors for sleep apnea: being overweight or obese, large neck circumference, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, breathing stops during sleep, morning headaches, frequent urination at night, difficulty staying asleep, sore throat, shortness of breath and waking up with a dry mouth.

If you have any of these symptoms or risk factors, your doctor may conduct an overnight laboratory test to diagnose sleep apnea. The most effective treatment, if you are determined to have sleep apnea, is nasal positive airway pressure treatment, where a device delivers a stream of pressurized air to airway to prevent it from collapsing.

Getting Healthy

The risk of developing sleep apnea can be lowered through lifestyle changes. Losing weight is the most effective method. In addition, limited alcohol intake and smoking can also improve sleep apnea conditions. Because alcohol relaxes neck muscles, it becomes easier for those muscles to collapse and block airways. And smoking can restrict your airways by inflaming tissue.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a defect in the body's ability to convert glucose (or sugar) into energy. Glucose is then transferred to the blood and is used by the cells for energy. In order for glucose to be transferred from the blood into the cells to be used as energy, the hormone insulin is needed. In diabetics, insulin is not produced properly. In type 2 diabetes, the most common, insulin produced is defective and cannot move glucose into the cells.

Diabetes treatment often involves insulin injections. Or, for some, simple lifestyle changes can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent the need for insulin.

Until recently, federal regulations used to wholly prohibit licensing drivers who require insulin therapy. Now, there are some waiver exemptions available, but drivers must demonstrate that they can manage diabetes on the road. When drivers are diagnosed, they must take a driving hiatus to start insulin and then prove they can manage diabetes while on the road. They must then apply for and be granted an exemption. As a result, it is best to prevent diabetes altogether.

Getting Healthy

If you have any of the following diabetes risk factors, you should consult your doctor:

  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight

There are many things you can do to help yourself if you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, including: