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Posted at: Oct 5, 2019, 12:44 AM; last updated: Oct 5, 2019, 12:44 AM (IST)

Dangers of desk job and how to avoid them

Working constantly under pressure and sitting for long hours takes a toll on the body. Take some basic precautions to minimise the risk

Dr Vikas Bhardwaj

In today’s competition-driven world, long work hours are a given. Most of us spent a major part of our day at our office desks. Working constantly under pressure and sitting continuously in front of computer takes a toll on the body. This kind of sedentary lifestyle has become an epidemic giving raise to many medical problems. These are some common health issues that people with a desk job suffer from. 

Lower back pain

It is one of the most reported ailments in the working population in India today, affecting people between the ages of 30-50. Pain is the most obvious symptom. Other initial symptoms include burning sensation and dull persistent ache. Certain basic precautions can minimise the risk. Check distance from the screen, adjust height of the chair and keyboard. Try to move around, take short walking breaks. Don’t hunch and keep your back straight while sitting.  

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused due to the compression of a major nerve of the hand called the median nerve, which is near the wrist. Women get more affected by CTS than men. This not so uncommon ailment is caused by rigorous typing and using the mouse for longer hours. If left untreated it can result in pain, reduced grip strength and inability to grasp objects. 

Cervical spondylosis

Decades of a sitting job with long hours increase the risk of cervical spondylosis that affects the spine, and neck in particular. Due to prolonged repetitive stress, about two-thirds of people experience neck pain at some point in their lives. Spondylosis, also called cervical disc disease, goes beyond just a pain in the neck, though. It is a degenerative process that can cause radiating pain, numbness and weakness in shoulders, arm, and hand. Lifestyle causes include work-related activities that put extra strain on your neck, holding your neck in an uncomfortable position for prolonged periods of time or repeating the same neck movements throughout the day and being overweight and inactive. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help. 

Eyestrain

In a today’s digitally connected world, we spent a long time in front of various screens — monitors, laptops or cell phones. This can cause strain on the eyes. Tired and dry eyes, blurry vision, inflamed eye glands are a few symptoms. Use eye drops (after consulting a doctor) if your eyes feel strained. Also, those who use reading glasses should get an anti-glare pair specially designed for the distance you sit from the screen. Try looking away from screen every 30 minutes. 

Noise stress

Excess noise is bad for health and can elevate stress and cause headaches. Create awareness and educate colleagues to keep their voice levels at minimum and why it is important. Use your cell phone in hands-free mode instead of using directly on ears. Avoid shouting across the room.

Don’t ignore these symptoms

  • Chest pain that radiates to arm or jaw. Heart attacks can happen to those in their thirties. 
  • One eye suddenly gets painful and red: This may again may be sign of a cardiac arrest. Immediately rush to a doctor.
  • Headaches especially prolonged headaches or a sudden, terrible headache could mean a problem in the brain that needs attention.
  • Weakness on one side of body or face are symptoms of a stroke, especially those having a high blood pressure.
Some quick tips to stay fit

  • Take the stairs
  • Have healthy lunch
  • Snack on fruits and nuts
  • Avoid sitting for too long; take brisk walk of 5 minutes every hour
  • Avoid smoking
  • Take small breaks to avoid eye strain
  • Exercise or walk (approx 30 minutes) daily

Be a cool customer

As jobs get highly stressful, it is important to keep your mind calm in all situations.

  • Meditate and do breathing exercises like pranayam. These calm down the brain and relax the nervous system. 
  • Have some me time. Spending some time with yourself alone gives some rest to the mind.
  • Read or listen to music. These activities can relax and rejuvenate the mind.
In these stressful times, we need to work on a calmer and composed self forbetter cardiovascular health, physical and mental health.

Obesity

Sitting down for long hours can have a devastating effect on your health. Most people don’t realise how much they sit during the course of a single day. There have been studies showing a correlation between higher BMI scores and sitting time at work. More time spent sitting at work has been associated with a decrease in mental well-being.

— The writer is consultant, neurosurgery, Max Multi Speciality Hospital, Greater Noida.

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