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10 modern health problems and how to prevent it

By Dr Amit Shobhavat
July 12, 2018 08:20 IST
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A convenient modern lifestyle brings along with it a host of health concerns.
Dr Amit Shobhavat tells you what you've been doing wrong and how you can correct it.

Modern health problems

Photograph: Kind courtesy

We live around gadgets and things of convenience all day.

A sedentary work culture and urban lifestyle pushes us to do unhealthy things that do more damage than good to our bodies.

Presenting a list of health problems caused due to unhealthy modern lifestyle and what you can do to prevent it before it's too late.

1. Text Neck

This is a modern age health condition affecting the neck.

It is caused by repeated stress injury and pain in the neck due to excessive watching or texting on handheld devices such as mobile phones, gaming gadgets, tabs, etc., over a sustained period of time.

How you can prevent it

To prevent Text Neck, raise the cell phone to eye level so the head is not tilted.

The monitor screen of your desktop computer should be at eye level so that your head is not continuously dropping and causing muscle strain.

Straighten your posture.

To alleviate stress, stretch/ arch your neck and upper back backward, pulling your shoulders into alignment under your ears.

2. Bronchial diseases

If the air you breathe is unhealthy, it could lead to a whole set of lung disorders.

Bronchial diseases are primarily caused due to excessive pollution, exposure to metals and toxic substances to micro-particles in the air.

Even smoking or using a hookah can trigger an asthma attack as the smoke may contain elements and/or particles that will enter your body through the respiratory track  causing lung and cardiovascular issues.

How you can prevent it

Dust, second-hand smoke and household chemicals are all irritants to your lungs.

Cleaning your house regularly can make a big difference.

Avoid cigarette/hookah smoke.

To reduce your risk of catching a viral infection, wash your hands frequently and get into the habit of using hand sanitizers.

Wear a surgical mask at work if you are exposed to dust or fumes.

3. Computer Vision Syndrome

CVS is caused by staring at a computer screen all day.

It includes headache, dry eyes, blurred vision, trouble focusing, sensitivity to light and burning or red eyes.

How you can prevent it

  • Keep blinking. It washes your eyes in naturally therapeutic tears. Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away.
  • Keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum.
  • Use blinds and get an anti-glare screen.
  • Position the computer screen to reduce reflections from windows or overhead lights. Keep the monitor at least 20 inches away from your eyes. Its center should be about 4 to 6 inches below your eyes. Adjust the screen so that you look at it downward.
  • Have a comprehensive eye exam done by an eye specialist.

4. Hearing loss

It is not uncommon for youngsters to listen to music, watch movies on the go.

While using headphones helps you from distracting people around you, listening to music in loud volumes for long periods can affect your ears and may even cause permanent damage.

Similarly, infections caused due to unclean earbuds are resulting in young people developing the type of hearing loss typically seen in older adults.

How you can prevent it

Turn the volume of your system just enough so that you can hear your music comfortably, but no higher.

Listen to music at 60 per cent of the maximum volume. Use ear buds for not more than an hour at a time.

5. Obesity

Unhealthy weight gain or obesity is caused by unsupervised eating.

Most processed or fast foods are high in fat and trans fat.

If you are not eating fruits, vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates, drinking too much alcohol alongside lack of physical activity and smoking, chances are you are gaining weight.

Combined with stress and lack of sleep, obesity can bring in a whole lot of health problems including diabetes, cholestrol and cardio-vascular disorders.

How you can prevent it

Follow a healthy eating plan including low-calorie nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Avoid saturated fat and limit sweets and alcohol.

Be aware of triggers that cause you to eat excessively. Exercise regularly -- around 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to prevent weight gain.

Stick to your health plan during vacation and holidays as much as possible.

6. Heart disease

Most modern heart diseases are caused by increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides due to consumption of processed and junk foods, smoking and alcohol along with a lack of exercise.

How you can prevent it

No amount or type of tobacco is safe.

Smokeless tobacco, cigarettes, hookah, shisha, second-hand smoke, gutka, and chewing tobacco are all damaging to the heart.

Regular, daily exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Moderate exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace for about 30 minutes on 4 to 5 days of the week can make a difference.

For a healthy heart, have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains along with avoiding too much of salt and sugars in your diet.

7. Acidity and gastrointestinal issues

Thanks to poor eating habits and guzzling too many carbonated and sugary drinks, acidity is another common health problem facing youngsters.

Regular eating of junk and packaged foods, not concentrating on the food while eating disrupt the pH balance and natural flora of the stomach. This causes both bloating and acidity.

How you can prevent it

Follow a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and whole grains.

Eat slowly by chewing food instead of gulping it down in a hurry.

Certain foods that are likely to trigger acidity or reflux include mint, fried foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, garlic, coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and alcohol.

Stay upright after eating. Finish eating three hours before going to bed.

8. Feet deformities

Wearing the right footwear is crucial. However, modern lifestyle demands you to try footwear styles that are not friendly to the body.

When you are wearing high heels the foot remains in a downward position increasing the pressure on bottom plantar of the forefoot.

Over time, there is a possibly of this leading to deformities such as hammer toes, bunions and more.

The downward foot position also causes your foot to turn to the outside and may cause temporary or permanent deformity.

How you can prevent it

Choosing footwear that fits correctly, especially low-heeled shoes with comfortable space for the toes is one of the main ways to prevent foot deformities and pain.

9. Poshitis (non-medical name)

The trend for carrying an oversized weighty handbag on bent elbow creates shoulder, back, buttock, arm pain and tingling in the hands.

In the last few years, women’s purses have become voluminous.

Often teens and kids carry their backpacks on one shoulder straining the muscles, inducing joint pain, torn muscles and inflamed shoulder tendons.

How you can prevent it

To prevent any bag-related injuries, bend your knees when you are picking up a heavy tote.

Carry the bag on your shoulder and switch the side you hold your bag on every 30 minutes.

While travelling and carrying bags use a cross body bag rather than a tote.

Buy bags made from lighter weight materials and with lesser metallic hardware on them.

Lighten the weight of your bag, carry only essentials.

10. Carpal tunnel syndrome

CTS is caused by the repeated motion of the wrist, as well as wrong positioning of the wrists while using your keyboard or mouse.

A painful, progressive condition, it occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed.

Beginning with pain, numbness and tingling in the thumb and the two fingers next to it.

As the condition progresses it may affect the rest of the hand and the forearm.

How you can prevent it

When sitting at a desk for many hours a day, make sure your arms are supported by your desk at a right angle by adjusting your chair.

Take breaks from work to relax your muscles.

Allow your hands to fall loose at your sides while you are reading on a computer.

Stretching exercises geared towards keeping the wrists supple, relax the muscles and the nerves facilitating circulation.

The author Dr Amit Shobhavat is consultant, internal medicine, K J Somaiya Super Specialty Hospital, Mumbai.

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Dr Amit Shobhavat