Body & Fitness

Is your phone making you sick?

It can feel like a lifeline, but it may be doing you more harm than good

Can’t live without your phone? You’re not alone – a study found some people now use their phone to carry out a whopping 221 different tasks.

It’s a telephone, camera, GPS, computer and TV in one, and no other device has changed our lives quite so much. But there has to be a limit. While your phone might help you stay connected and on top of things like never before, it could also be making you sick without you realising.

Here are four symptoms that could be down to your phone.

You’re shattered

Many of us take our work home by checking office emails on our phones after hours. But while this strategy may seem productive, health experts say putting in too much overtime makes

us less effective and prone to burnouts.

Fix It: Set an email out-of-office message before you leave work to say you’ll respond to any messages after 9am the following day. And don’t forget to turn off the notification function so you have to actively log into your email account to read any new messages.

You have a rash

No, you’re not imagining things – it’s possible to be allergic to your phone. Some mobiles contain small amounts of nickel and chromium, which can trigger allergic reactions (much like costume jewellery). Called contact dermatitis, this red, flaky rash is most likely to appear on your ears, cheeks and hands, and, if you keep your phone in your pocket, your thighs too.

Fix It: Use a durable plastic cover on your phone and go hands-free when making calls. Use an oral antihistamine and a hydrocortisone cream to treat any existing rash.

You feel anxious

According to a 2013 study by Auckland University of Technology, over 80% of Kiwi internet users regularly check their social media accounts. But for every feel-good post, there’s another one that makes you feel low. From the friend who always seems to be dining out, to your colleague’s epic cruise, it can feel like you’re the only one at home. Accessing sites like Facebook and Instagram on your phone means you could be checking them several times a day. A UK study found that an average smartphone user picks up their phone a massive 1500 times a week. Enough!

Fix It: If deleting your social media apps feels like a step too far, reduce the time you spend on those sites with an app that blocks the ones you’ve already visited that day – take a look at socialnetworklimiter.com.

Your neck aches

Texting, scrolling and flicking between pages is taking a major toll on our spines. What makes handheld devices so dangerous is the extra pressure it puts on the neck when we look down to read or type on screen – up to an extra 27kg of pressure every single time.

Fix It: Strengthen your upper back muscles by squeezing your shoulder blades together and using your neck muscles to move your head back until your ears sit over your shoulders. Hold each exercise for 10 seconds and repeat four times a day.

Get Woman’s Day home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories