Work takes up most of our day. If we're not careful, this can seriously compromise our health. Desk jobs, whether you work in the office or at home, can easily lead to a sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity can result in unhealthy weight gain, a greater likelihood of chronic diseases, and poor bone and musculoskeletal health. They can also lead to more short-term conditions that can impact your comfort and work performance.
Fortunately, it's easy to remedy the factors that can cause occupational hazards at a desk job. Here are five common conditions you need to look out for and what you can do to prevent them.
Looking at your screen causes you to blink less, triggering a lack of moisture in your eyes. This can result in a sensation of burning, itching, or tiredness. Some tips to prevent eye strain include ensuring the lighting in your workstation is just right — gentle and diffused. Your screen’s brightness should not be emitting a glare. You should also consider adopting healthier habits, like taking frequent breaks and knowing when to rest your eyes thoroughly. For this, you can try the 20-20-20 rule. This practice involves taking a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Maintaining any position for an extended time can lead to stress on your back, shoulders, and neck since it reduces the flexibility of your tendons and ligaments. Having bad habits such as poor posture or having a setup that’s not ergonomic can further aggravate your condition. To avoid back pains, make sure your workstation is optimized. Have an ergonomic chair, and ensure that your keyboard and screen level are conducive to your elbow and neck. Try to use a standing desk converter, which is ergonomically designed to help you maintain good posture. They can also encourage you to stand up and do stretches to vary your position throughout the day.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand. Workers frequently on their computers are prone to this since the condition is caused by repetitive movement like using your mouse or typing on your keyboard. To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, try to have frequent breaks and stretch your hands and arms. Watch your posture and make sure that your wrist is in its neutral position. A neutral position can be achieved when you align your thumb with your forearm and your wrists are leaning slightly backward, like when your arms are by your sides. A split ergonomic keyboard can help you maintain this position while working.
Occupational dermatitis is a skin irritation involving dry skin, itchiness, or rashes. They can develop into blisters or may cause oozing, crusting, or flaking off. One of the most common causes of occupational dermatitis is contact with chemicals or allergenic or irritating substances. Protect your skin by avoiding direct contact with cleaning products and moisturizing your hands regularly. Monitor your skin regularly for symptoms. Finally, make sure your skin is not in frequent contact with anything else that can cause irritation, such as tables with toxic coating. Tables stained with acrylic-based oils or urethane binders are a couple of coatings you should look to avoid.
Respiratory illnesses can vary from asthma to lung cancer, but most are caused by inhaling harmful substances. Asthma is often caused by genetics and allergic reactions. Yet in the workplace, asthma can be triggered by various other factors. These include printer toner, cleaning products, poor ventilation, and mold. Speak to your manager to see what can be done. If you’re working from home, try adjusting your environment to avoid these conditions. Another common trigger for respiratory illnesses at work is cigarettes, which workers often use to relieve stress or are exposed to secondhand. These can lead to lung cancer, so try to smoke less or avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a variety of health conditions. Knowing how to care for yourself and taking the proper precautions can help you avoid and address these issues.
Written by Liezel Clarke
Reviewed by Dr. Johann Ongsitco
Dr. Johann Christian Ongsitco at Tau Mu Multi-Specialty Virtual Medical Clinic
Dr. Johann Christian Ongsitco at Kalesa Health
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