An inseparable companion in everyday life, the smartphone is, at least for the hours we spend together, the most frequent attendance of our days. And the proximity, which becomes contiguity and contact because of the use we make of it, may present some contraindications. Here are some aspects to consider in terms of health using and, sometimes, abusing our mobile phone. We talked about this with Professor Daniela Lucini, Head of Medicine at Humanitas.
If it is true that the cell phone accompanies us everywhere it is plausible that it suffers from environments at higher risk, for the presence of bacteria, viruses or other germs, baths in the head. For this reason, even if a hard surface makes the survival of germs more complicated, it is advisable to consider the problem of its cleaning.
Too much time looking at the phone while tilting your neck can strain your muscles and cause tension or spasms. You may also have nervous pains that go to your back, or to your shoulder and along your arm. For this reason, breaks at least every 20 minutes to stretch and arch your back are recommended. And when using the phone you should be careful to keep it high when writing without bending forward.
Uncomfortable phone calls
Holding the phone between your shoulder and ear while doing something else is an unnatural position that, if maintained for too long, will hurt your neck. Since it cannot be avoided, it is better to take breaks and move the neck in other directions to keep it free. If the damage is done, a simple rest, a heating plate and over-the-counter medications for pain and stiffness should solve the problem.
Writing and Guiding
It is a combination to be avoided because sending a text requires a few seconds of attention, which when driving is equivalent to a sufficient length to cause an accident. The risk of crashing in these conditions is 23 times greater than normal.
Talking and driving
Not even talking on the phone is safe practice. There are 4 times more chances of crashing when doing so. This behavior causes more than one million accidents a year. If there is a real need to talk on the phone, better pull over.
Surfing the Internet at night can ruin your sleep, which is related to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other health problems. The “blue light” emanating from the smartphone is guilty. The darkness allows you to fall asleep sooner and better.
Either walk or talk
It takes a few seconds to type and send a message; it seems little time, but it is enough to stumble, lose your balance and fall. This is one of the most common causes of injury. Better to stop, because a few seconds difference is not worth an accident.
Risk of cancer?
Studies do not demonstrate the existence of links between cancer and the use of smartphones, despite the fact that scientists have long been working on this front. So if you’re worried about radiation from phones, restrict its use or use it in speaker mode or with a headset.
When the thumb is stuck in the bent or not straight position it is a sign that the sheath surrounding the tendon has thickened to the point of preventing it from slipping. In these situations, which are the result of excessive writing, the only possibility is to limit yourself.
Arthritis of the thumb
Although it is not clear whether the use of the cell phone actually causes arthritis to the thumb, it can certainly worsen the symptoms. Arthritis of the thumb causes pain at the base of the finger, towards the intersection with the wrist. Gestures such as grabbing the phone or sending messages using your thumbs can worsen the condition. Even if there is no cure, rest, medication and splints can help.
Cubital tunnel syndrome
If you lean on your elbows to write or bend over to hold the phone to your ear, the ulnar nerve at your elbow may irritate you. This can cause numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers and pain inside the elbow or forearm. Recommendations include: elbow on the cushion on hard surfaces, not bending the elbow for a long time, pauses to move the arms in different directions, but a nocturnal splint to keep the arm straight can also help.
If you use your mobile phone very close to medical devices such as pacemakers or implantable defibrillators, these may not work optimally. Phones can also interfere with certain types of hearing aids. Talk to your doctor if you notice problems with your device when using your smartphone.
The shorter wavelength of blue light that smartphones emit can tire your eyes very quickly and cause discomfort. It can also damage the cornea and eyesight. If you notice these problems it is better to limit the exposure time to smartphones and computers, or at least take breaks to give rest to the eyes.
The phones are distracting for everyone. If your doctors or nurses are on their phones, the chances of making mistakes increase. One study found that errors in symptom control and proper treatment rose by more than 12% with a single interruption by a smartphone.
In the best hidden company
Even if you don’t look at it, a phone in plain sight while talking to someone can hinder full understanding. And this is a problem especially in close relationships and when talking about something significant. Better, then, postpone the update of social media and focus on the person sitting in front of you.
“The overuse of smartphones, as a recently new phenomenon, has led specialists to identify a series of ergonomic problems related to the physical posture to which the use of mobile phones leads us – said Professor Lucini – but the speech postural is not the only one. Paradoxically, the least visible problem is precisely the fact that these devices are inducing the young population to an excessive sedentary lifestyle. Mobile phones invite us in an incredible way to be active, as well as not to socialize in person, with all the psychological consequences that this entails.