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This Month In Health
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  • Smart or Not?
    Revolutionizing the way people communicate, cell phones have quickly become a must-have tool for people of all walks of life. Great as cell phones are, several health concerns have been blamed on cell phone usage. Here are a few. Read >>

Smart or Not?

Could your smart phone be responsible for these health problems?

Around the world, an estimated 9 out of 10 people own a cell phone. Revolutionizing the way people communicate, cell phones have quickly become a must-have tool for people of all walks of life. Besides making phone calls, smart phones are used for texting, Internet access, GPS, calendars, email, banking, music, videos, and apps for just about anything you can imagine. As a result, most people are rarely separated from their phones, and if they are, they may feel uneasy and disconnected.

Great as cell phones are, several health concerns have been blamed on cell phone usage. Some claims are valid, others have proven false, and others are yet to be decided. The extent of risk associated with cell phone usage depends on the amount of time you spend on the phone each day, the distance the phone is from your body, and the distance you are from a cell phone tower. While numerous studies have discredited the theory that the radio frequency emitted by cell phones increase your risk of brain cancer, it’s still recommended that you hold the phone away from your ear and not sleep with the phone under your pillow.

Here are a few ways smart phones can negatively impact your health.

Thumbs

As you use your phone, it’s your thumbs that do most of the work. Tapping out texts, typing up correspondence, and scrolling through information can take its toll on your thumbs. Some people develop blisters or sores on their thumbs, while others develop overuse injuries. Repetitive movements of the thumb joint can lead to pain, discomfort, and numbness at the base of the thumb.

Medication, physical therapy, splints, or surgery may be necessary for treatment.

Ears

How often do you use headphones to listen to music stored on your phone? No one else can hear, so it’s easy to increase the volume to unsafe levels. Millions of people have done permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive loud noise. Researchers state that any sounds louder than 85 decibels can harm your hearing, and MP3 devices can reach 100 decibels. Want to be able to hear your grandkids talk to you? Then you may want to turn down the volume on your headphones.

Eyes

Reading tiny text and watching graphics on a small, bright screen at close range for hours each day can strain your eyes. Symptoms of eyestrain include irritation, redness, dryness, blurred vision, or headaches. Increase the size of the text, take frequent breaks from looking at a screen to look at something in the distance, and hold the device away from your eyes.

Immune System

Your cell phone is likely covered in germs. Studies show E. coli and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), two bacteria that cause serious illness, are often found on people’s phones. Keep your hands clean and regularly wash your phone with a soft cloth to reduce the amount of bacteria hanging out on your handset.

Road Hazards

Talking or texting on the phone while driving isn’t just dangerous because you’re distracted. Just listening to a conversation reduces the amount of brainpower devoted to driving by more than 30 percent. Even hands-free phone usage increases the risk of accidents. Young drivers are more likely to be distracted by cell phones and have the greatest risk of fatal crashes, but the risk runs true for all ages.

It’s not just distracted drivers that pose road hazards but distracted pedestrians as well. Walking near busy roads or crossing intersections while on the phone leads to preventable accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Emotional Health

Interrupted conversations, a lack of face-to-face interaction, and the mere presence of cell phones can negatively affect relationships. You feel less valued when cell phones seem more important.

The constant alerts and reminders from your phone can contribute to stress and sleep disturbances. Social media is linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. So put the phone away sometimes, look people in the eye, and make an intentional effort to care about the people around you. It’ll do your own emotional health good.