How to Stay Away From Common Seafarer Illnesses

Aside from the obvious hazards of working on a ship, there are also harmful diseases and disorders that seafarers have to watch out for.

Being a seafarer is a rewarding job; you are compensated well, get to see the rest of the world, and have a chance to work your way up the corporate ladder. However, it is also one of the most perilous jobs in the world, which is why many shipping companies get fixed P&I coverage to protect themselves and their workers.

Unfortunately, there are more dangers seafarers are exposed to other than accidents. There are also diseases and disorders that they are more prone to getting. If you are a seafarer, here are some of the most common illnesses that you should be aware of and how you can avoid them:

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases are just as common among seafarers as they are for the rest of the population. CVD is an umbrella term for heart-related conditions, such as stroke, hypertension, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). For many seafarers, smoking and drinking on the ship are common pastimes due to several factors such as boredom or stress. These vices, along with other factors such as unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and excessive stress, are all contributors to cardiovascular disease.

CVDs can be challenging to treat while on a ship, especially for emergency conditions such as strokes and heart attacks. That said, it is of utmost importance for all seafarers to take care of their heart health both at home and at work, and they can do that by getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding excessive alcohol and smoking.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

One of the most common work-related disorders that seafarers are at risk for is the Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS. The use of high-vibration power tools such as chipping machines or hand-held grinders can lead to this syndrome, especially when it is prolonged and frequent. Seafarers who are affected by this syndrome experience numbness, tingling, and pain in their arms and wrists.

Although there is no known cure for HAVS, seafarers can avoid getting this syndrome by taking frequent breaks when using power tools, keeping their fingers and hands warm, and avoiding smoking, since smoking can increase the risk of acquiring HAVS.

Pandemic or endemic diseases

at a doctor's appointment

Part of being a seafarer is exploring the rest of the world. However, that also comes with the risks of exposing themselves to different diseases such as malaria, cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis. The most effective way to avoid these diseases is to get vaccinated, but seafarers should also build up their immunity and their health. To do that, they should get regular exercise, eat healthy food, minimize or avoid vices, and handle stress effectively.

When you become a seafarer, you should know what you’re getting into. That said, now that you know the health risks you are exposed to, you can take steps on how to avoid them. Following these tips is a good start.

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