Cell Phones and Mobile Devices Can Take Toll on Body

Hidden dangers include germs, muscle pains and eye strain

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972  

, June 4, 2014 -- Look around, and you will likely see someone on a cell phone. Mobile devices have become part of our daily lives.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, an estimated 6 billion people use a cell phone. That’s 86 out of every 100 people worldwide. Efforts have been made to educate people on the dangers of texting and talking on a cell phone while driving. Many states and local governments have put in place laws outlawing such practices.
Physicians at Eskenazi Health would also like the public to be aware of other dangers associated with cell phone and mobile device use.
“When you have a device like a cell phone, where people spend hours upon hours using them and taking them everywhere they go, there are some hidden dangers people might not be aware of and should consider,” said Nydia Nuñez-Estrada, a physician at Eskenazi Health Center North Arlington. “Some of the these dangers include severe eye strain leading to headaches, germs spreading from dirty cell phones causing illness and muscle pains from overuse.”
Mobile phones not only carry important data, but germs too. Research conducted by South University in South Carolina sampled 60 phones belonging to students and found that phones were frequently contaminated with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. The Mayo Clinic reports that it is tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus, or staph, because it's resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.
“Small text and bright screens can also lead to eye and muscle strain,” Nuñez-Estrada said. “Since tablets, smartphones, and other hand-held devices are designed for reading at close range, users’ eyes must constantly refocus and reposition to process the graphics and text on screen.”
Symptoms of eye strain include eye redness or irritation, dry eyes, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain and headaches. Some of the ways to prevent digital eye strain include reducing glare, cleaning the screen, dimming the surrounding lighting that is competing with the device’s screen, keeping adequate distance between eyes and the screen, and increasing text size. It is also helpful to take breaks from looking at the screen, and follow the “20-20-20” rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes using an electronic device and look at something 20 feet away.
Through a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis, Eskenazi Health Center locations offer a wide array of services, including physical exams, prenatal care, social services, dental services and more. For more information on these services or to find a primary care physician, please call Eskenazi Health Connection at 317.880.7666.