As the internet recruits more computer users, computer-use related health problems are on the rise. What makes it even more serious, is that the health of many children and young adults is being negatively affected (courtesy: computer and video games) .

Regular computer use can negatively impact your body and cause certain health problems, which you should address promptly. The reason for taking prompt action is that the health risks arising from sitting on the computer regularly and over long periods can aggravate and then prevent you from working on the computer.

Besides these problems can even prevent you from carrying on your daily activities. Healthcare management for computer users, therefore, becomes important.

Consider this:  A stiff neck that you cannot move due to excruciating pain, or severe back pain that prevents you from sitting or standing, or a severe headache that just makes you want to sleep

Result: Besides the suffering, absentees from work and loss of productivity time. Back pain is the second most common reason (after cold), why people stay absent from work.

Computer addiction can be very dangerous and can have multiple negative health effects on your body. Children and young adults are prone to computer addiction, playing computer games for long periods. This should be controlled.

Regular health checks and safety measures have to be carried out to rule out any potential computer-related health conditions that can arise.

Computer Related Health Problems

Described below are the five most common computer-related health problems, which have a negative effect on the body. Healthcare safety tips to prevent these health conditions are also explained.

1)  Computer eye strain and vision problems

 Risk factor: Continuously staring at the monitor screen without taking breaks is a high-risk factor and is bound to take its toll on your eyes.

Eyesight and visual disturbance are the most common and early health problem that manifests due to computer use. There is eyestrain and the eye muscles get fatigued and subsequently weaken.  As a result, they are unable to function as before.

The eye lenses do not contract and expand as required.  Vision gets impaired and you are unable to view close or distant objects clearly. You must get your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist, who may prescribe you glasses if required. A headache is another common accompanying symptom.

Healthcare precautions for:

Exercise your eyes daily. Move your eyeballs clockwise and then anticlockwise ten times. Do this three to four times a day. Use anti-glare glasses. Take regular short breaks from sitting in front of the computer. If necessary, get eyes checked by an ophthalmologist to detect any refraction error.

2)  Cervical spondylosisNeck and shoulder problems

Risk factor: Reading from the monitor screen and/or typing over prolonged periods regularly is a risk factor that can over time cause cervical spondylosis.

When reading from the monitor screen or when typing on the keyboard, your head and neck stay in one position for a prolonged period. The neck and shoulder muscles stay locked in a position for a long period, causing muscle strain. These are the muscles, which support the cervical vertebrae of the vertebral column. Due to the continuous strain experienced by these muscles, they become fatigued and over time start to weaken.

Weakened cervical muscles cannot hold up the cervical vertebrae, one of which may slip a bit from its normal position, causing cervical spondylosis.

This can cause a headache, giddiness, and pain in the neck and shoulder. Take prompt opinion from a bone specialist. He may prescribe a cervical collar, some neck exercises, medicine for the pain. Follow advice religiously. Otherwise, this condition can worsen.

Healthcare and safety precautions

 Neck and shoulder exercise two to three times a day will keep your neck and shoulder muscles strong. Take preventive measures. For instance, you could wear a cervical collar during your computing hours. This will keep the neck and shoulders muscles in the neutral position and prevent any muscle strain.

3)  Carpal tunnel syndrome

 Risk factor:  Regular typing and use of mouse over prolonged periods is a major risk factor of this computer-induced health hazard, called carpal tunnel syndrome.   

 Debate: There are two schools of thought on whether the prolonged and regular use of computers can predispose to getting carpal tunnel syndrome. There is a debate and results of studies conducted are contrary to each other. The general feeling and belief do indicate that prolonged and regular use of the computer does have an adverse effect on the wrist, which can predispose to carpal tunnel syndrome.

  •  The American Medical Association does not agree that the continuous usage of the computer can give rise to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  •  Harvard, too, conducted a study and tends to agree that carpal tunnel syndrome is due to other underlying causes.

As per the school of thought that advocates computer as one of the causes of CTS, repeated keystrokes and long periods of clutching the mouse tightly, cause strain to the concerned muscles, tendons, and the ligament.

This damage gets on accumulating over the period and causes inflammation and swelling of the affected tendons, ligaments, and muscles, resulting in compression of the nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.

This compression of the nerve gives rise to symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome, such as tingling and numbness, pain and loss of strength of the affected wrist, fingers, and hand.

Healthcare precautions:

 Exercises for the wrist will help. Move your wrists clockwise and anticlockwise ten times, three to four times a day. Do not hold the mouse tightly. Try getting used to operating the mouse alternately with both the hands. This will give intervals of relaxation to the wrists. If required, seek a medical opinion.

4)  Low back pain

Risk factor: Low back pain, which can progress over time to lumbar spondylosis and more, is the result of wrong sitting posture adopted when you use the computer. The risk increases when this happens regularly over long periods.

When you sit on the computer in the wrong posture regularly and over long periods,, the back muscles become strained and fatigued. Over time they weaken and are unable to perform the function of holding up the lumbar vertebrae of the vertebral column in place. One of the lumbar vertebrae can slip and the space between it and the adjacent vertebra can lessen.

This can compress the nerves that come out from the spinal cord and through the inter-vertebral spaces to innervate the lower parts of the body. Pain can also radiate to the hip and legs.

Healthcare precautions

Use a proper chair so that your back and lower back get proper support. Use proper posture. Sit up straight. Do not slouch. Regular exercises, at least five times a week, to strengthen your back muscles is a must.

Here too, using a lumbosacral belt as a precautionary and preventive measure will help prevent this problem. If required seek a medical opinion.

5)  Mental Stress

Long hours in front of the computer, trying to achieve targets can have a  negative bearing in your mental setup.

You have very little time to socialize or for any outdoor recreation. This can cause mental stress. You should take prompt remedial measures as the stress can deepen and lead to depression over time.

Healthcare precautions:

Take small regular breaks from working on the computer. Socialize and spend time with family and friends.

Meditation is great and is known to increase stress threshold. Yoga exercises are also good. If necessary, take professional help.

The final take: Computer users must follow preventive and safety measures

Prevent yourself and your dear ones from turning into computer addicts. The negative effects on the body of computer addiction can be crippling. If you are in the information technology industry, exercise well regularly, always keep proper posture, use antiglare glasses, and take short breaks of three minutes every hour.

Do some stretching exercises during these breaks. This will not only prevent health problems but will increase work productivity as well. Children are prone to computer addiction playing computer games for hours. Parents have to step in and help them exercise restraint.

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