Smartphones can cause depression and other health hazards

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The blue light emitted from screens can affect a person’s sleep cycle

New Delhi, 05 December 2017: Prolonged use of smartphones may significantly increase the risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia among teenagers, as per recent findings. The findings indicate that there may be an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to devices and the internet.[1] The motivation for going online is an important factor in relating technology usage to depression and anxiety.

While people are concerned about cancer, which remains a controversial issue, there are other future health problems caused by use of smart phones. Prolonged use of mobile phone can also cause neck pain, dry eyes, computer vision syndrome, and insomnia. About 60% of youth between 20 and 30 years of age fear losing their mobile phone, a condition called nomophobia.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “Prolonged use of smartphones can cause multiple health issues, not just depression and anxiety. Smartphones and tablets give off a blue light, which can affect a person’s sleep-wake cycle. This blue light reduces the amount of melatonin secreted in our brains, which is a hormone required for good sleep. People who use smartphones in bed have a delayed REM sleep and wake up less alert in the morning. Cell phone elbow happens when one talks on the phone a lot. Holding the phone up to the ear causes the ulnar nerve to get compressed over time, which can lead to problems with motility and sensation. These are just some of the issues. Behaviors can be as addictive as substances, and many of us have the tendency to pull out and check our phones much more often than is necessary.”

Having access to so many different streams of information through gadgets has been found to decrease the brain’s grey matter density, which is responsible for cognition and emotional control.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “In this digital era, the key to good health should be moderation – moderate use of technology. A lot of us have become slaves to devices that were really meant to free us and give us more time to experience life and be with people. Unless precautionary measures are taken at the earliest, this addiction can prove detrimental to one’s health in the longer term.”

Some tips for preventing problems caused due to overuse of mobile phones are as follows.

  • Electronic curfew means not using any electronic gadgets 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Facebook holiday: Take a Facebook holiday for 7 days every three months.
  • Social media fast: Avoid use of social media once in a week for the entire day.
  • Use your mobile phone only when mobile.
  • Do not use computer for more than three hours in a day.
  • Limit your mobile talk time to more than two hours in a day.
  • Do not recharge your mobile battery more than once in a day.
  • Mobile can also be a source of infection in the hospital setup; therefore, it is disinfected every day.

Straight from the Heart: IMA Issues

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An Inter-Ministerial (Health, Consumer, Law and Home) committee was formed at the insistence of IMA; practically met every month during the last one year to take IMA issues forward. MOH recommendations for various issues of IMA so far are as follows:

Clinical Establishment Act

  1. To take the police out of appropriate CEA authorities
  2. To exempt entry level NABH Accreditations Centre from CEA registration formalities
  3. To facilitate single window registration of medical establishments
  4. To redefine the word to stabilize in the CEA Act means to “to provide first aid/ basic life support”
  5. Standard treatment guidelines are advisory in nature
  6. Establishment charges only in consultation with state and IMA

PCPNDT ACT

  1. To take penal provisions out for clerical errors in PCPNDT Act. The matter is in the Supreme Court.

Violence against doctors

  • MoH also released series of advertisements in National dailies on the subject of violence against doctors
  • MOH wrote to all the Chief Secretaries of States regarding enacting and /or implementing Laws against violence on doctors
  • MOH wrote to the Law Ministry for initiation of Central Law against violence

Capping of compensation

  • MOH wrote to Consumer ministry regarding amendment in CPA to modify the compensation clause

Crosspathy

  • MoH has given in writing that doctors of non-modern system of medicine cannot prescribe modern drugs. IMA won the crosspathy case in Delhi High Court. The matter is in Supreme Court.

NMC and NEXT

  • One of the main Agenda of IMA was “Say No to NMC” and IMA could convenience the Govt. to bring proposed NMC in its present state which is 60:40 ratio of Nominated Vs. Elected Body, out of 29 (25) members – 9 will be elected, 5 Selected and out of 15 nominated, 10 will be medical doctors.