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Common Sicknesses of Seafarers

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Seafarers are exposed to many diseases due to the nature of their work which include long working hours, harsh climate conditions, etc.

Below we list down the common sicknesses some seafarers might contract during their time on board the ship:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD)

MSD are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system.  Due to seafarers’ strenuous work, they are susceptible to getting MSD easily.  Regular exercise and sufficient stretching can keep MSD at bay.

  • Hypertension

The hectic and stressful lifestyle on board the ship can do quite a bit of damage to a seafarer’s health.  And to top these with smoking, lack of exercise, fatigue seafarers can be prone to hypertension.  Hypertension can lead to renal failure and stroke.  Good eating habits, engaging in physical activities and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent hypertension.

  • Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Prolonged usage of power tools with the lack of proper usage and limits of use may result in HAVS.  If not detected and treated early, this can lead to permanent disability.  Some of the symptoms of HAVS are pins & needles, tingling and numbness in the fingers, loss of finger sensation and dexterity.  Seafarers should avoid continuous exposure to the power tool by taking frequent short breaks or by using regular task rotation. Seafarers should also preferably put on anti-vibration gloves.

  • Sexually Transmitted disease (STD)

Seafarers spend long time away from home, providing ample opportunities for casual sex, often in areas with a known high prevalence of STDs.  It is vital that seafarers are aware of the severity of STDs so that they can practice self-discipline and control.

  • Cancer

Seafarers’ continuous exposure to UV radiation, toxic substances, and smoking makes them vulnerable to contracting various types of cancer, brain cancer and leukaemia.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.  With proper exercise, a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet, some of these diseases can be kept far away from seafarers.

Based on your experience, are there any other common illnesses of seafarers?