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Love ’em or hate ’em, computers are here to stay. We work on them, play on them, and even look up our high school prom dates on them. While this all may seem harmless, computers can also cause health issues when not used properly.

Consider the following health busters (and solutions) the next time you log on:

* Headaches – Many computer users at some point or another have suffered from headaches or migraines due to eyestrain, bad posture and long periods of use. Avoid headache triggers (and pain meds) by taking frequent breaks, increasing the font size to avoid squinting, positioning the screen to reduce glare and sitting in a comfortable position.

* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Also known as repetitive stress disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. Numbness is often the first symptom. Laptop users are especially prone to this condition since many keyboards are smaller than standard and the mouse is often awkward to maneuver. Whenever possible, swap your small keyboard for one that’s ergonomic. Laptop users should even consider adding an external keyboard for added comfort. And, be sure to take frequent breaks.

* Blood Clots – When working on a computer, it’s easy for the time to slip away. Unfortunately, sitting in the same position for long periods of time can slow blood flow to the legs and increase the chances of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). And some medications like birth control pills, as well as specific genetic conditions, can increase the chances of developing blood clots. Taking frequent walks and drinking plenty of water can help keep blood flowing safely.

* Insomnia – If you enjoy surfing the Web at night, consider that your computer may be fueling your insomnia. Light from the computer can disturb the body’s rhythms and suppress the release of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that encourages sleep. To get more Z’s, step away from the computer at least an hour before bedtime so your body can wind down and prepare for sleep.

By taking few precautions when using a computer, you can stay healthy, get the work out on time and even reconnect with some old high school friends.

“50 Health Tips” is brought to you by UCF Pegasus Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice, which offers primary and specialty care just blocks away from the main UCF campus. Learn more at or call (407) 266-DOCS.

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