Can you get sick from playing video games?

can you get sick from playing video gamesVideo games are always under criticism. They said to make gaming enthusiasts aggressive or stupid, some even blame them to be the reason for shooting massacres or other violent attacks on innocent bystanders. However, little has been proven scientifically so far. Too few long-term studies on the negative consequences of computer games are done. In the meantime, gaming has become a mass phenomenon that stretches across all ages. More than two-thirds of the world’s population play occasionally and nearly half spend more than 5 hours a week gaming in front of the computer. Are all those people potential slayers, does it make them crazy, or can you get sick from playing video games? No doubt, excessive gaming may not be good for your health.  Playing in moderation may not harm. Computer games finding their way also to a variety of therapies.

So can you get sick from playing video games?

Benefits from gaming in moderation may be concentration, eye-hand coordination, reaction time and accuracy.

Some people may get addicted to video gaming, this will be another complex post.

But most negative consequences result from the fact that there are too little movement and physical activity as well as a monotonous sitting in often inadequate postures that leads to serious health problems.

There is a number of complaints and illnesses that may fall under the gamer syndrome.

Mental problems and mental illness

Nervous system disorders, such as a headache, fatigue, aversion, nausea, or the like, may occur if one excessively engages in computer games without taking recommended breaks.

Headaches

Headaches can have a number of causes, from sitting in an unfavorable posture for too many hours, inadequate lighting, bad air, or simply forgetting to drink or eat because one doesn’t want to interrupt a gaming session. However, they should not be taken too lightly but as a warning signal.

Epileptic seizures

Flashing, flickering bright lights can trigger Reflex epilepsies or Photosensitive epilepsy (PSE). Light-dark changes, in combination with fast-changing bright colors, may create patterns that can cause seizures in humans.  Usually, people who have a history of seizures are affected. So people known to suffer epileptic seizures should avoid certain video games that produce such strongly changing light stimuli.
You all have probably noticed the prominent epilepsy warning in manuals of computer screens and video games.

Eye problems and eye irritation

Tired, itchy, red eyes? Screen time and monotonous staring results in reduced eye blinking.  But to ensure the sufficient moisturization of the eye a blink rate of about 20 per minute is necessary.  Staring at a computer monitor also reduces the movements and exercises the eyes needs to stay healthy. The result is a sensation of itchy and burning eyes, redness, and extremely dry eyes, that feel as if sand is in them. This condition is known as Gamer Eye Syndrome or Computer Vision Syndrome.

Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrom

The Repetitive Strain Injury syndrome (RSI) is characterized by nonspecific complaints in joints, tendons and muscles in the neck, shoulder, arm and hand area after repetitive activities. Computer users or gamers often suffer repetitive movements over extended periods of time. A typical case of RSI is the mouse arm. Exercise and regular sports to compensate for the monotonous repetitive movements reduce the risk of RSI. Of importance is also an ergonomic design of the gaming hardware such as mouse and other input devices.

Musculoskeletal disorders – Back Pain

Back pain and disorders of the musculoskeletal system are one of the most common problems of modern society. We are not made for sitting all day. Back pain is mainly caused by strained muscles and ligaments, or spinal and intervertebral disc wear.  You can get sick and be suffering backpains from playing video games, because of the general lack of movement when spending too many hours glued in front of the screen. Regular breaks and exercises are needed, as well as ergonomic gaming chairs that provide a good sitting posture.

Rhizarthrosis

Rhizarthrosis describes a condition of arthrosis of the thumb basal joint (Trapeziometacarpal joint). The condition results from unfavorable and monotonously repetitive movements working with the mouse and keyboard. In individuals with a tendency to arthritis, the chronic stress wears the joint and leads to osteoarthritis which in the worst case leads to joint stiffness.

Circulatory Problems

Prolonged sitting and lack of movement can promote circulatory disorders. Symptoms of circulatory problems in the lower extremities may include swollen legs in its early stages. In advanced stages, varicose veins and other troubles like pain walking may develop.
But circulatory disorder caused by lack of movement may also cause Intestinal Problems. Typically, circulatory disorders in the intestines cause abdominal pain – especially after eating.
As always said so many times, too much sitting makes you sick. It can not be stressed enough to take regular breaks from screen work or gaming sessions. Even altering the sitting position or getting a gaming chair with rocking mechanism can be beneficial to prevent congestion of the lower extremity venous vessels.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases are amongst the most common non-communicable diseases and affect the health of millions. Based on many factors, such as genetics and individual lifestyle, problems here need to be checked by your medical professional.
For the heavy gamer or the poor soul who spends his life working in an office, suffering lack of exercise, too much stress and follows the wrong diet, all this may contribute to overweight and hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Slow down, take it easy, pay attention to your health and take the first warning signals seriously.

Can you get sick from playing video games?

Most of the above-listed troubles are caused by a variety of factors. The main factor, however, relates to lack of movement and prolonged sitting. Make sure you allow yourself regular breaks and engage in some exercises during those breaks from the screen. Most important too, buy yourself the best gaming chair you can afford, your health is worth more than the few dollar you safe when buying a cheap chair.

If you have problems, you should always analyze your individual situation and ideally have a medical check-up if symptoms persist.

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