Over the road truck drivers are at very high risk for several medical conditions. The CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH understands that OTR truck drivers face a significant high risk of personal injury while on the job, however they also realize that OTR truck drivers are at an increased risk of many specific health problems such as depression, heart attacks and cancer.
The majority of people would expect OTR long haul truck drivers to face a daily risk of severe personal injury such as strains, back problems and the overwhelming possibility of having some kind of motor vehicle accident simply due to the number of hours they put in on the road driving. However most people don’t normally think of all the specific health issues that OTR long haul truck drivers face simply based on their job description.
Research into crash related deaths connected to OTR long haul truck drivers have shown a consistently high rate of health issues, in which fatigue plays a large part such as that associated with long term sleep deprivation. Disorders such as fatigue can be contributed to long driving times and irregular unloading and loading schedule times, as well as very detailed hauling schedules they are instructed to adhere to. However many drivers push the limits to reach their destinations and stay on schedule no matter how the weather and traffic conditions may slow their progress.
Another medical condition that OTR long haul truck drivers face is that of high blood pressure and heart attack. Research shows that long haul truck drivers frequently become overweight and thus more susceptible to many health problems. Possible factors for their weight gain can be attributed to their sedimentary lifestyle and unhealthy food choices. As well as, OTR long haul truck drivers may also frequently refrain from taking any regular medications as prescribed, along with some drivers skipping their prescribed medications all together. Taking medication that has been prescribed for hypertension, diabetes and many other health conditions in this fashion can be not only very detrimental to their health but can depending on the condition cause life threatening consequences.
Cancer is also another disease that many OTR long haul truck drivers have a high risk for, although this can be associated to several different factors. In many cases truck drivers can easily overlook some medical problems, which is largely due to them being out on the road and they know they need to keep working. OTR truck drivers often know that they are exhibiting some disturbing symptoms such as severe coughing, stomach pain, finding a lump or a significant loss of weight but because truck driving is how they make their living, they fore-go seeking prompt medical attention and allow many medical conditions to advance before receiving treatment.
I have been a nurse for almost 30 years and unfortunately recently I have seen a surge in many professions including OTR truck drivers. Patients will often say that they neither have the time to get in to see their doctor or in the majority of cases they state they can’t afford to come of the road to see a doctor for fear they will lose their job if they take the necessary time off to seek medical treatment.
I often however instruct all my patients not just truck drivers that if they find any masses, lumps, have any troubling discomfort or pain, as well as have any exhibiting abnormal symptoms that they feel are alarming they should immediately seek medical care. I tell them that I completely understand about feeling the pressure to stay out on the road or in any job that pays their bills, however no job is worth possibly losing your life over and although I’m not the first to say it “It’s better to be safe than sorry”.
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