10 Major Health Concerns for IT Professionals
Between monitoring networks, configuring applications, and managing technology projects, IT professionals spend massive amounts of time in front of the computer screen. And because IT emergencies can occur at any time, workers often have to monitor IT systems outside normal business hours. Over time, extended periods at the computer can take a toll on your health. Here are 10 common health problems for IT workers—and ways you can prevent them.
Deep-vein thrombosis is the formation of blood clots, which can travel to the brain and lungs, causing strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and other urgent health conditions. The term eThrombosis was recently coined, referring to the long hours and sedentary lifestyle of many computer users and IT professionals. Extended sedentary periods can cause these dangerous blood clots to form.
Studies have shown a heightened risk of heart disease among those people who spend most of their days sitting. According to NPR, a 2010 study found that "men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity." For IT professionals who spend most of their time sitting in front of a computer, this should sound an alarm.
In addition to thrombosis and heart disease, recent medical research has found a link between physical inactivity and certain cancers, particularly breast and colon cancer.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A common problem among computer users, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the major nerve in the wrist becomes compressed after continual physical stress. The condition starts gradually, with symptoms such as burning or tingling in the hand, but it can eventually lead to severe pain and decreased wrist mobility.
Vitamin D deficiency
Most people get the vitamin D they need through sun exposure. But if you’re in a northern climate and you spend most of your time indoors handling IT concerns, you might not be getting the vitamin D you need. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems, including bone diseases, multiple sclerosis, and certain cancers.
Recent studies have shown that most keyboards and cell phones are teeming with bacteria and other microorganisms. In addition to spreading cold and flu bugs, dirty tech tools can lead to staph and other serious infections.
Anxiety, stress, and depression
Recently, British scientists discovered a link between computer usage and depression. IT workers typically manage crises and disaster recovery, which can be extremely stressful. In addition to causing mood swings and anxiety, recurring stress can lead to a variety of physical symptoms.
Many IT workers use their electronic devices late into the evening. But staring at an illuminated screen before bedtime can limit the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. Chronic insomnia can lead to other health problems.
Lower back pain
Slouching in an office chair for hours at a time can cause serious aches and pains, especially in the lower back. Over time, bad posture can permanently damage the spinal structure, leading to severe, chronic pain.
Neck and eye strain
Regular computer usage can lead to neck strain, usually due to improperly adjusted monitors. The habit of tucking a phone between your ear and shoulder for extended periods of time can also lead to stiff neck muscles and cramps. Also, squinting at the computer screen or your mobile device screen for hours on end can lead to eye strain and headaches.
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