IT professionals like programmers and developers spend massive amounts of their time in front of the computer screen for monitoring networks, configuring applications, and managing projects — which eventually results in some serious common health problems.
Sometimes running behind a better high paying job, these so-called IT professionals spend most of their work outside normal business hours and this is the main reason that causes various health issues.
Since the advancement of technology over the years, the world is becoming more and more dependent on information technology. And information technology is not only used by IT professionals but also by others too, like students, gamers, and other professionals. So health problems caused because of prolonged use of computers and other gadgets can occur to anyone.
To keep your health intact, you have to find a way how to properly use computers and smartphones — in a disciplined way, especially when you are working on or using the same devices for hours. So be aware an extended period of computer and smartphone usage can take a toll on your health.
In this article, we are briefing some of the common health problems of IT professionals and also recommending some tips for how you can prevent them.
- Common Health Problems of IT professionals & Prevention Tips:
- 1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- 2. Anxiety, stress, and depression
- 3. Thrombosis
- 4. Heart disease
- 5. Computer vision syndrome
- 6. Insomnia
- 7. Lower back pain
- 8. Neck and eye strain
- 9. Obesity or overweight
- 10. Breathing Problems
- 11. Internet Addiction
Common Health Problems of IT professionals & Prevention Tips:
1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common health problem among IT professionals. It is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves in hand called — the median nerve — gets compressed due to constant but restricted movement of the wrist joint. Among IT professionals, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome happens from repetitive work, such as uninterrupted typing.
The condition starts gradually, with symptoms such as mild pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm. But in some people, it gets worse, and sometimes it eventually leads to severe pain and decreased wrist mobility. So early diagnosis and treatment are important because, for some patients, surgery is required to prevent permanent damage.
Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Rotate or stretch your wrist every hour.
- Flex and relax the fingers several times.
- Put something spongy under your wrist while using the keyboard and mouse.
- Keep a thin mouse pad so that the thickness of the pad does not hurt your wrist while moving the mouse.
- Adjust your sitting position and level when typing — keep your wrists straight, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your wrist is parallel to the desk so that you don’t form any angle while typing or moving the mouse.
- Remember, don’t sit and type for hours. Take short breaks in between and exercise the joints of your hand.
2. Anxiety, stress, and depression
Anxiety, stress, and depression — three major health problems among programmers, developers, and other IT professionals or maybe happen to most people.
Targets and deadlines — Hearing these two words are enough to induce stress and anxiety in most of IT professionals. Sometimes IT workers’ life becomes extremely stressful because of some project deadlines or debugging some unusual error in their code. Also, IT professionals and people who are addicted to the internet are more likely to develop depression. Depression can greatly affect the quality of life and have a negative impact on personal relationships as well.
So this depression, mood swings, anxiety and recurring stress can lead to a variety of physical problems.
Prevention of Anxiety, stress, and depression:
- Limit your work to the workplace only.
- Limiting computer use — especially time on the internet during non-work hours can help you avoid depression.
- Exercise is an effective way to get some relief from stress and anxiety. Calming forms of exercise, including yoga, can be especially helpful for stress reduction.
- For some people, group events are beneficial to forget their stress and worries as it helps people to interact with each other.
Deep vein thrombosis — in other words, refers to a condition where blood clots form in the deeper veins in the legs. This common health problem in software professionals happens due to a lack of motion in the legs.
If you don’t know, because of the gravitational force, legs bear a heavy flow of blood. And usually, the impure blood (deoxygenated) in our legs is pumped back to the heart and then the lungs for purification (oxygenation) this is a regular ongoing process — sitting for long hours without any activity can make the blood stagnate in the blood vessels of our legs which lead to clot formation. The vein in the later stage becomes stiffened, starts paining, and then gives unbearable sprain and rigidity in the legs.
Prevention of Thrombosis:
- Move your legs, regularly stand up for a short break, take a short walk, and come back.
- Do not keep a water bottle with you. When feeling thirsty, walk down to the water fountain even a quick walk to the bathroom or water fountain can get your blood flowing and prevent clots.
- Regular massage also helps. You might also want to consider purchasing a standing desk.
4. Heart disease
Studies have shown a heightened risk of heart disease among those people who spend most of their days sitting. A study has 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. Improper breathing and poor blood circulation can also cause this issue. For IT professionals who spend most of their time sitting in front of a computer, this can be a big problem. They can’t type or edit while walking or lying in their bed.
Prevention of Heart disease:
- Avoid sitting for long hours, make sure you get up once every 15 to 20 minutes. Remain active.
- Regularly go for jogging as cardio exercises are the best to prevent this problem. You can also get in the habit of doing simple exercises whenever not interacting with a computer.
- Do yoga. Prefer stairs over elevators and park your vehicle a bit far from the parking place so that you walk down to the office.
5. Computer vision syndrome
Those who spend most of their time staring at a computer screen are prone to suffer from a condition called computer vision syndrome — the eyes are red, itchy, constantly irritating, sensitivity to glare, pain around the eyes, headache, and overall fatigue.
If the problem is severe, you see very small particles when you move your eyes. It’s actually IN your eyes and not actually present. People who spend 8 to 12 hours a day staring at a computer screen will develop eye problems. The simple reason is the screen, its radiation, and resolution (I mean the brightness and contrast).
Prevention of Computer vision syndrome:
- Avoid using your computer in a dark room.
- Keep the distance of 18-24 inches to keep your eyes healthy.
- Since everything is wireless these days, keep your keyboard away from the computer desk and arrange it somewhere nearer to you and do this with a mouse too.
- No matter how great claims you see in ads, radiation from the screen DOES affect your eyes. Use anti-glare lenses/eyeglasses.
- Keep blinking.
- Look at the objects or scenery that is at a long distance every half an hour.
Insomnia or difficulty sleeping is one of the common health problems seen in software professionals. Many IT workers use their electronic devices late into the evening. But staring at an illuminated screen before bedtime can alter the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. As time passes, the release of this hormone alters permanently, leading to chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia can lead to other health problems.
Prevention of Insomnia:
- Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep (recommended 8 hrs).
- Consider switching your electronic devices off an hour or half-hour before going to sleep.
- Dim the lights and read a book to help prepare your body for rest.
7. Lower back pain
Sitting in an office chair for hours at a time can cause serious aches and pains, especially in the lower back. People who spend more than 8 hours in front of a computer can lead to great stress on bony joints and cartilage of the back, leading to back pain. Over time, bad posture can permanently damage the spinal structure, leading to severe, chronic pain.
This is probably the most common health problem suffered by IT professionals. The problem becomes severe that you cannot bend forward. This is typically noticed when you get up from your seat after sitting for long hours. Your body feels stiffened, and you take a few minutes to get back into your flexible movement.
Prevention of Lower back pain:
- Pay constant attention to your posture.
- Just check out the curve you make from the lower back. The lesser the curve you make, the better the posture is.
- Placing a support pillow behind your lower back can help.
- Try to sit erect and don’t bend forward to the type or to see the monitor closely. You can also support filling the curve-gap to prevent such harm.
- Regular massage helps.
- Be sure to remove any items from your back pockets to avoid creating pressure points and an awkward spine angle.
8. Neck and eye strain
Sitting for hours in the same posture and staring at a computer screen can cause neck pain, which can later develop into neck stiffness, which usually happens due to improperly adjusted monitors. It is not just staring at the screen for long hours that causes the problem; placing the phone in between your ears and your shoulder is also a trigger for neck problems (Call centre workers, Stockbrokers).
Prevention of Neck and eye strain:
- Adjust the level of your chair and the computer monitor and maintain the viewing angle.
- If this is not possible, adjust your chair — make it higher or shorter with the help of the level provided.
- Move your neck up-down several times after every hour.
- For eye strain, follow the 20/20/20 rule — after 20 minutes of computer work, look at an object about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
9. Obesity or overweight
This is one of the typical health problems that IT professionals face these days. The reason is simple again, lack of motion, activities, and exercises and always going for fast or junk food since you don’t have the time to cook or you don’t have anyone to cook for you. Constant sitting on the chair in front of the computer adds extra pounds to your body. This can bring cholesterol and also increase the chances of heart disease too.
Prevention of Obesity or overweight:
- Avoid junk food; keep sprouts, salads (carrots and cucumbers are best for this), or something fibre-rich edible.
- Try to avoid fried items(oil being the main reason for cholesterol).
- Regular exercise, yoga, and jogging will be great for this.
- Avoid sitting on a chair for long hours, and take small exercise breaks.
10. Breathing Problems
IT companies and offices lack ventilation. Every room is central air conditioning, and the scope of putting windows for ventilation is always ignored. The level of carbon dioxide is raised when a lot of people exhale in the poorly ventilated hall. The brain receives less oxygen, and over a period of time, there could be mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and lack of concentration. Poor breathing patterns also invite weakness of muscles, sleeplessness, improper eye-to-hand coordination, decreased memory, strains and pains in the body, and poor blood circulation.
Prevention of Breathing Problems:
- Try to breathe deeper all time, i.e. take more oxygen in.
- If possible, arrange the ventilation or go out to the balcony or rooftops at times to breathe fresh.
- Yoga helps a lot too. Do regular breathing exercises
11. Internet Addiction
Internet addiction brings a lot of health hazards due to over computers and other internet-enabled devices. While enjoying the exemption from the real world, internet users find themselves more comfortable on the imaginary World Wide Web. There are many studies that revealed that abuse of alcohol and tobacco, depression, and other major health problems happen due to internet addiction.
Common problems include depression, dependency, anxiety, stubbornness, lack of social responsibilities, disrespect toward the elders, and mood swings.
Prevention of Internet Addiction:
- Keep kids’ computers in the public hall and check the history of web pages they visit in your absence from time to time.
- Fix up something like Team Viewer and simply block certain addictive websites.
- If you are a parent, try to spend time with your kids and make them realize that the company of good humans is always better than gadgets.
- If you are an office-goer or someone who is WWW-conscious, meditation is very useful. Try some nature soundtrack or some classical music to make your mind stronger, leaving the addiction.
The world is becoming a cyber-place, and technological advancement is also helping in many fields and many people. Computers are everywhere; everyone needs a computer, and nothing can be done without a computer, but a computer cannot do anything on its own there has to be a human sitting in front of it and making it do it. Since the computer is a machine, it can be repaired, but that’s not the case with humans. So, use it in such a way in which our health is least affected, and use the prevention tips we have given in this article to control these common health problems of IT professionals.