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Most Common Health Problems in IT and How to Prevent Them

natasa_lane profile image Natasha Lane ・4 min read

The software industry is continuously growing, and many people are choosing to test their luck in this branch. However, like every other profession, being in software development doesn’t come without downsides. The nature of work in the IT industry includes various types of physical and mental stress. In fact, some studies even suggest that the level of stress among IT and ITES workers is comparatively higher than in other employees. If you are working in this sphere or if you are planning on starting, here are some health risks you might face and ways of preventing them. 

Lower Back Pain

The most common health problem tormenting IT workers, and generally everyone who spends their work hours sitting, is lower back pain. Spending eight hours or more sitting in front of the computer results in huge stress on the joints and cartilages of the back, which inevitably causes back pain. This usually happens because of bad posture and/or uncomfortable chairs. If you let these causes persist, they can cause structural changes in the bones. The back pain that happens occasionally can, in such situations, become chronic. 

The first thing you need to do is get an ergonomic office chair. The chair should then be adjusted to your proportions and the height of your desk. Your lower back should be pressed against the chair. Also, you should try to get up every 30-45 minutes, take a short walk, and stretch.

Insomnia

Short-wave light from the computer screen causes disturbances to the circadian rhythm. This suppresses the production of melatonin and disrupts the regulation of body temperature. As a developer, you are probably spending more time in front of the computer screen than the average person, which means that you are more likely to develop sleep issues such as insomnia. 

Fortunately, there are several evidence-based approaches to alleviate insomnia, and they include stimulus control, progressive muscle relaxation, sleep restriction therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

This is a condition where a median nerve that passes through the wrist is compressed because of the constant movement of the joint. The inflammation is caused by repetitive work, usually from typing or using a mouse. Some of the symptoms to pay attention to are tingling and numbness of the hand, pain, weakness of the hand, and decreased grip.

CTS can be prevented. It is imperative to stretch and bend the wrists frequently. Your keyboard should be positioned so that your elbows sit on the table at a straight angle. You can also use gel pads for palm support, and make sure you take short breaks.

Neck Pain

Sitting in the same position has consequences on your entire spine, and that includes your neck as well. This will first demonstrate as neck stiffness and later grow into intolerable pain. The best way to avoid it is by maintaining the right posture. As with the back pain, you should break the long work sessions by taking a walk or doing neck stretches

Computer Vision Syndrome

Because you spend eight hours and more in front of the computer screen, you might experience vision problems characterized by pain around the eyes, sensitivity to glare, red eyes, dry eyes, eye fatigue, and headache. According to a report published in The Times of India, 80% of the people suffering from this condition work in the IT department.  

To make it easier on your eyes, try to look away from your screen every 20 seconds. Use an anti-glare screen cover and avoid working in a completely dark room. 

Anxiety and Stress

Stress and anxiety are bad enough on their own, but they can also hamper your health and even cause depression and heart problems. It’s difficult to battle the deadlines, the targets, the errors, and their consequences. It is even more difficult to find an effective way to battle workplace stress.

The best tips we can give you are not to carry your work home, spend quality time with friends and family, and be physically active. 

Final word

As you can see, there are many health problems caused by the nature of work in the software industry. However, this doesn’t mean you need to give up on your career dreams. Most of these issues can be avoided by focusing on prevention first.

Discussion

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pauledworthy profile image
Paul Edworthy

Your article is timely, I just started stretching again. I had developed some knee pain a few years ago. In researching why, I found it can be common for people who sit for hours a day. Essentially your quads and hip flexors can shorten over time (and your hamstrings lengthen), hence the imbalance on the knees. It only took a couple of weeks of stretching and my knee pain was gone. Now I just need to get back in the habit of doing it regularly.

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hanokhaloni profile image
Hanokh Aloni

To make it easier on your eyes, try to look away from your screen every 20 seconds!? I think you meant 20 minutes...

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rajoyish profile image
Rajesh Budhathoki

I'm having back pain. I will try out these tips. Thanks 😊

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dziku86 profile image
dziku86

Go and get pro massage on a regular basis. This will save your future self.
Then stretch everyday (right before sleep helps insomnia) and try to take cold showers in the morning.
loop it