Health Risks Of Being A Programmer

1K Blog Marathon: Day 23

We are all been there: the late night grinding just to finish the program because tomorrow is the deadline or else you and your group will be “dead”.

The circulation of super concentrated coffee in your blood just to stay awake for the next 3 years. I feel so alive!

The pizza, oh how I love pizza, because it’s easy to drop by the next pizza house for a midnight snack.

The office “throne” we are seated from 9am to 5pm or even up to 9pm!

We did all these things just to be cool and to be indexed as “Programmer”. But after years of these programming habits, did your body collects its toll for the moments you abused it? Let’s talk about the health risks of being a programmer.

Head and Eye Problems

Being in front of the screen, desktop or mobile, can be very much eye-straining. I remember when I first take a 12 hour straight in front of computer – this is during college and I was very fascinated with the Visual Basic 6.0, that I didn’t feel the need to pee nor the hunger, until it was time to go home.

I feel addicted, not by computer gaming but by programming. I skipped lunches, rarely taking a break (it’s a call of nature if I take a break). Because of that, my headache occurs regularly, especially when I can’t find the solution for the error of infinite loop!

Also, when I go out of our computer lab to pee, I feel like I’m a vampire, melting in the sunlight. My eyes were also not safe. I experienced tearing even if I didn’t watch drama, I always have a red eye. Some people advised me to wear eye glasses, but I told them that my vision is clear so I don’t need that. It’s true, my vision is clear, but I can’t bear the too much light, so I tried to code using a summer sun-glass! I protect my eye by being cool!

I protect my eye by being cool!

Computer Vision Syndrome

CVS is a visual and other symptoms from being exposed to screen for a long period of time. Because of prolonged screen exposure, the eye is strained and other parts of the head are affected. In my case, it’s the trigger for my head aches and migraine.

Countermeasure?

Use the 20/20/20 rule – take a break every 20 minutes, and look at far distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds.

Body

I have a bent back, or “hukot” in Filipino. I don’t have a straight body, so I have a bad posture especially when sitting. I hunch and my back curved like a letter “C”. Aside from it stands for my first name, there is no other good benefit of this back of mine. I get back pain from sitting too long, so I lean on my back. With these reasons, I prefer a chair with back rest, and I prefer to sleep ^_^.

Having a bad posture is not good for back bone, back muscle and blood circulation. I wish it would make me more intelligent sitting in this position like L, but it just make my back ache a lot.

Countermeasure?

Sit in a comfortable position. This is the time you have to buy that gaming chair you’ve been dreaming of!

Sit straight up, avoid bad posture (the letter “C” back pose). If it is hard, you can lean on your chair’s back rest.

You can also take a break, take a walk for a minute or two. Try stretching. It does not only release strain in your muscles, but also promotes blood circulation.

Pro tip: To avoid bad posture, make sure to level the top of your screen to your eye level.

Heart

Sitting for a long time, eating fatty foods, then you are wondering why you are getting a lot of weight? Why not cut off from eating that fries! Being in the “zone”, we always set aside the quality of our food. We tend to buy fast foods from the nearest 7/11. You don’t even go to work walking, (are you? Then congrats!). Next time you buy that burger, think again about the calories you will store for the next 8 hours.

If you don’t feel any bad thing in your chest, it’s time to prevent it from happening. But if in case, these are the things you should look out just to be sure your heart is safe and sound.

  1. Chest Pain or Chest Pressure
  2. Irregular heartbeat – sometimes you have a racing heart, sometimes slow heart beat.
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Additional pain in the jaw, neck – from abdomen up.
  5. Lightheadedness, dizziness

Countermeasure?

Exercise! It all goes down to burning those extra fat. Also, if your are burning that fat, try not to store more by breaking your relationship with those fries and burger. Stay away from fast foods. And drink plenty of water. Water alone can save you, mark my word!

Fingers

Did you feel a tingling sensation in the half of your palm and fingers? Did you feel a strain in your wrist whenever you (play game for 5 hours) code for a whole day? Are you feeling numbness in your hands and arms? Congratulations, you now win the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a form of Repetitive strain injury, where in the buildup of stress in the wrist and palm are resulting in a squeezed or compressed nerve – mainly the Median Nerve – resulting in a pain, numbness and discomfort in the affected area.

I will confess, I felt it during the time that I learned to play DOTA. Please don’t judge me, I’m not a heavy gamer, just hooked!

There are times that after typing for a long period of time, my middle finger down to pinky finger is tired, and straining to the point that I have to massage it for 5 to 10 minutes.

Countermeasure?

There are medical tests that should be performed to address this issue. But if the symptoms were not aggressive enough to make you go to a physician, you can try exercising it if you feel a strain is starting. Again, take a break from your coding task, massage the numb part. You can stretch it for 5 to 10 seconds just to release the tension.

Stress

Who in this world is not stressed? Stress is a main part of our life here on earth, and we programmers, eat stress day after day. You can see it in my face ^_^

But stress has more bad effects than good. You can still experience physical stress even sitting for a debugging job. And mind you, a mental stress is much more damaging than physical!

Mental stress can manifest in our body, it can wreak havoc in our hormones, producing more pimples and stomach acid. It can also give us body pain. All of this as a result of a simple bug in the code!

In our job as programmers, debugging is not the only stressful task, there is the meetings that eat up our time, presentations that makes our stomach turn, the constant customer claim and problems, and the never-ending updates.

It can also affect our social life. Being nailed in our chair day in and day out, sometimes we have no time for hangouts and parties. As the funny saying goes, “I’m a programmer, I have no life.” And this can also give us stress – the fear of not coping up with the hype.

Countermeasure?

According to Cleveland Clinic, there are 10 ways to ease stress:

  1. Eat and drink sensibly
  2. Assert yourself
  3. Stop smoking or other bad habits
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Study and practice relaxation techniques
  6. Take responsibility
  7. Reduce stressors (cause of stress)
  8. Examine your values and live by them
  9. Set realistic goals and expectations
  10. Sell yourself to yourself

Sleep Deprivation

It’s 4 in the morning, and you are still awake, coding and debugging. You feel energized by the liter of caffeine in your system. You will just find a time to sleep during the day.

Then you do it again the next day. Then the next day. And for one month, you are awake. Are you in a sleep experiment?

During college days, I can stay awake with little to no sleep for a week. In return, my body can go into sleep even sitting and typing code. My source code looks like If var1 = dslj;;;;;;;kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

It hurts my Circadian Rhythm. Sometimes I can half sleep standing in the bus. I can sleep during office hours. And if I want to sleep, I can sleep right away (even after sleeping). And even if I get a long sleep, I still feel sleepy.

Sometimes, I and my wife is talking about our family, and I accidentally tell her: “yes, the error is persisting”. She slaps me, laughing. If I’m feeling sleepy, I can talk nonsense, or even off topic, then noticing it afterwards, like “what did I just said?”

Countermeasure?

If you have any treatment or suggestion for this problem of mine, every comment is highly appreciated! ^_^. But I guess, just get a proper sleep, not too short and not too long.

Being a programmer is a tough job, we don’t just sit there and shed code from our skin. We need a lot of focus, research, and coffee! What are the bad health issues you experienced while being a programmer? How did it affect your life? How did you cope up from it? You can share it below in the comment section! Any answer is highly appreciated!

“And that’s one blog, stay hungry!”

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

Mahatma Gandhi

Published by Christian Foster

Code-blooded, coffee-lover, tall, dark and chubby. I love to draw, has motion-sickness and a sleepy-head. BTW, graduate of BS Computer Science, Associate in Computer Science and certified UiPath RPA Developer. Loyal to my partner and a father of a cute bouncing baby daughter!

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