7 weird technology related health conditions

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Technology has advanced tremendously in the last decade. Staying in touch has become extremely easy, and distance from one another does not matter anymore.

While many of us are taking new technology in our stride, some of us unlucky few are being affected by it in a bad way.

Here, we take a look at 7 weird ways that technology is affecting our health.

WhatsAppitis

In 2014, the reputed journal The Lancet reported a case of a 34 yr old pregnant doctor who presented with excruciating pain in both her wrists one morning. Careful questioning revealed that she had been working on Christmas eve, and spent nearly 6 hours straight the following day answering messages she received on WhatsApp. She was managed with painkiller medication.

whatsapp-892926_640Unfortunately, she did not have a full recovery as she was unable to refrain from texting.

The reason for developing this condition is well known. Constant use of the thumbs when texting can lead to inflammation and injury to the tendons of the thumb (a condition called tenosynovitis). Similar conditions have been described before in individuals who are constantly on their computer and typing on the keyboard. Tenosynovitis in the case of WhatsAppitis is a form of RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury. In other words, the constant stress on the tendons can lead to injury of the tendons.

WhatsApp is great, but could be detrimental to your health.

Wiiitis

When it comes to gaming consoles and interactive gaming, Nintendo is one of the top players.

However, it appears that Wii have a problem. 🙂

It is not uncommon for medical journals to describe cases where people have injured themselves in one way or another when playing on the Nintendo Wii. This condition is now popularly known as ”Wiiitis” (pronounced ‘wee-eye-tis’).

There are even cases of ‘Nintendinitis’ that have been reported!

One such case was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, where a 29 year old medical resident doctor woke up one morning with intense pain in the right shoulder (I bet you are wondering why it is the medical professionals are suffering from gaming injuries all the time!).

Turns out he had spent several hours playing the interactive tennis game (it is actually a great game!), swinging his hand controller in a similar fashion to a real tennis game.

Fortunately for him, he recovered with simple pain killers, but clearly became very famous ;).

More recently, a case of blood clot formation in the deep veins in the body following Wii gaming was reported only a few months ago in the journal Phlebology.

Wii related fractures, tendon tears and multiple other conditions have been described, making doctors even more wary of these conditions.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Sometimes called CVS, Computer Vision Syndrome is a condition that affects…well….the vision of computer users.

Statistics have shown that anywhere between 64% – 90% of computer users suffer from this condition. Here, the user develops problems with their vision – particularly  dryness, eye strain, redness, burning eyes and blurred vision.

The scientific reason why CVS occurs is related to the way the eye focuses on text on the computer screen. The human eye is designed to read and understand images that are of solid shape, but find it difficult to focus on pixels. The pixels which are displayed on the plane of the computer screen can be initially focused upon easily, but after some time the focus shifts to a point beyond the screen. This requires the eye to re-focus on the pixels, and this cycle continues.

This constant refocusing can lead to eye strain and computer vision syndrome. Dryness occurs as people reading a computer screen blink less frequently (normal blink rate is around 10-15 per minute, which drops to <5 when using a computer.

CVS is easy to prevent. Just blink often when using the computer. Take a 20 seconds break from staring at your computer every 20 minutes. Make sure the lighting in the room is adequate.

Male infertility

Men! Keeping the laptop on your lap for hours on end can affect your ‘little men’.

Yes, a study has shown that placing the laptop on the lap and working for hours on a regular basis can increase the temperature of the scrotum by about 2.7 degrees C. In turn, this can affect sperm count, and decrease the chances of conceiving considerably. It is in fact a commonly recognised technology related health condition.

laptop-958239_1280

The reason is simple. The scrotum keeps the sperms cool, at a temperature that is 2 – 4 degrees lesser than the body temperature. At higher temperatures, the sperm count can drop to the tune of 40%!

A low sperm count is a well recognised factor in failure to conceive.

But it is not just the heat from the laptops that’s a problem. A study has shown that WiFi signals received by a laptop placed on the lap can also reduce sperm count.

So if you really have to sit on your bed and use your laptop, use a table and protect your little fellas.

Cyberchondria

Ever heard of hyperchondria? This is a condition where an individual is convinced he/she has an illness, and visits the doctor repeatedly to get tested (spending thousands in the process).

Well, move over hyperchondria; there is a new bad boy in town.

Its called cyberchondria, and it is gripping the nation, thanks to the internet.

Cyberchondria is a condition where people ‘Google’ their symptoms online, become utterly confused by the information, and visit their healthcare practitioner convinced that they have a rare medical disorder or that they are seriously ill.

It is slowly becoming a doctor’s nightmare.

google-490567_640

There is currently a lot of information online written by either non-medically trained ghost writers or people just looking to sell a product. The information on such sites can be heavily misleading.

One of the primary purposes of starting HeartSense was to empower the public with knowledge about health and wellness. Every article on our site contains references to scientific peer reviewed journals. This makes it completely authentic (we thought we would just include this paragraph in here, just in case you doubted our site!). 🙂

Cyberchondriacs eventually become anxious folk, relying on Dr Google to make their diagnosis for them rather than trusting their own physician (who has spent years studying medicine and associated specialties).

In fact,there is a hilarious article online that discusses just this. Check out the Google Medical Center.

Headphones and road accidents

Have you ever encountered a teenager who decided to jaywalk while listening to some music when traffic is in full flow?

Most of us have, and it most certainly makes our blood boil at times.

We fail to understand how someone crossing the road does not realise that it is more important to concentrate on the road and oncoming traffic rather than listen to loud music through their headphones.

It is unfortunate, but it happens. Studies have shown it to be a factor in road traffic accidents, and it clearly is a preventable cause.

In fact, there are numerous cases where road traffic accidents have occurred when people are crossing the road, and while it might be easy to blame the driver, jaywalking and the use of headphones often seem to be the common denominator.

When we are children, we are taught to look to the right, left and right again before crossing the road, and to only cross at the zebra crossing. Whatever happened to practicing this?

The same holds true for people who are more keen to send an LOL text message to their friend when crossing the road than to maybe reach the other side alive.

Kids (and some adults), really, a 30 second delay in sending a text message could actually save your life.

PlayStation Palmar Hydradenitis

A few years ago, the British Journal Of Dermatology reported a case where a 12 year old girl in Switzerland who spent hours everyday on her PlayStation developed small pus filled skin lesions on her hands.

playstation palmar hydradenitis

Among the millions of consoles sold, this was the first described case.

The reason behind this appeared to be the continuous usage that led to micro-injuries to the tissues of the hand. Combined with excessive sweating that can occur from constantly holding the game controller, bacteria can enter these injured areas and lead to infection.

Treatment required the use of antibiotics. In this patient’s case, just stopping playing for 10 days cured the condition.

Of course, prevention is better than cure, so limiting gaming to short intervals is a good idea.

References
Fernandez-Guerrero, InĂ©s M. “WhatsAppitis.” The Lancet 383.9922 (2014): 1040.
Arcade, Penny. “” Acute Wiiitis.” New England Journal of Medicine 356 (2007): 2431-2432.
Brodmann, M., et al. “Acute wiiitis representing as thrombosis of the inferior vena cava and left pelvic veins.” Phlebology (2014): 0268355514530278.
Wimalasundera, Saman. “Computer vision syndrome.” Galle Medical Journal 11.1 (2006): 25-9.
Sheynkin Y, Jung M, Yoo P, Schulsinger D, Komaroff E. Increase in scrotal temperature in laptop computer users. Hum Reprod. 2005;20(2):452–5
Kasraee, B., I. MasouyĂ©, and V. Piguet. “PlayStation palmar hidradenitis.”British Journal of Dermatology 160.4 (2009): 892-894.

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Dr Vivek Baliga B

Dr Vivek Baliga B

Consultant Internal Medicine at Baliga Diagnostics Pvt Ltd
Dr Baliga is a consultant in Internal Medicine with an interest in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He received his training in the United Kingdom where he completed his post graduate training and his doctorate. He then completed his MBA from University of Phoenix, USA. He has completed the post graduate program in Cardiology from Johns Hopkins University and participated in the Advanced Certificate Course in Diabetes from the Cleveland Clinic, USA. He is the managing partner of Baliga Diagnostics, Bangalore. He is also the founder of HeartSense and is a keen advocate of patient empowerment, having written almost every article on this website and more. In his spare time, he enjoys running and spending time with his son. Find Dr Vivek Baliga on LinkedIn here - http://heartsense.in/linkedin.
Dr Vivek Baliga B
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