Is Your Computer Making You Sick?

(Image Credit: Ray Smith)
(Image Credit: Ray Smith)

We are living in a technology-obsessed society. Even those who argue they aren’t obsessed, I bet they won’t deny they need their gadgets. These days, phones and tablets are doubling as computers as everyone is on the go, trying to get their fill of information and entertainment. But what some don’t know is how much these devices are turning into vices, as they are beginning to affect various parts of our health.

The most common side affect of over-using your computer is called Computer Vision Syndrome. Over time and through prolonged computer use, your vision becomes blurry and your eyes get dry and must strain to see. Although these symptoms can continue even when you’re not on a computer, there are ways to prevent or reduce these vision problems. Try enhancing the lighting wherever you are seated at the computer and reducing the glare on the screen. If you already suffer from minor eye problems, extensive computer use can make them worse.

Ever wonder why you can’t sleep at night? It could have something to do with excessive use of your computer or phone. Bright lights from electronic screens boost alertness, suppress the release of melatonin, a natural sleep-promoting hormone, and change the body’s circadian rhythm. Most physicians advise to stop using electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed.

Not as common as CVS or insomnia but perhaps more serious is a condition called e-thrombosis. Linked to deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, e-thrombosis is caused by remaining immobile in a seated position for long periods of time. Certain sitting positions at either a work desk or on a couch can allow blood clots to form in leg veins. These clots could potentially move to the lungs and be fatal. If seated in a chair for long periods of time doing work on a computer, it’s important to remember to take a break every hour and a half. To ensure circulation in your legs isn’t cut off, lying on your back with your legs straight out in front of you is the best position when watching movies or television shows on your computer.

Other side effects of computer use could include tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome from intensive typing. Additionally, a study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2005 said that those who sit a desk for more than six hours a day are twice as likely to be overweight. And working at a desk or even being on a laptop can cause users to slouch and have poor posture, paving the road toward back and neck damage.

Despite reading about all these harmful consequences of computer use, you’re probably saying to yourself, “But I can’t not have my computer!” Which is okay because the good news is that preventing these conditions is easy and simple. All it takes is allowing yourself breaks throughout the workday. Taking a couple of minutes to get up and walk around will allow your arms and legs to get some blood flow and your eyes some rest. It will also allow you to recharge your mind, which after all is the most important part of our health!

 

Originally posted May 15, 2013

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My name is Caty and I’m studying Journalism and Spanish at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi.

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