World Hypertension Day: Can cell phone use increase high blood pressure risk?

India has over 1.2 billion mobile phone users. This startling figure gives us reason to believe how these small devices have become such a big part of our everyday lives. Yet, we should not ignore the health risks of cell phone use. A new study, published ahead of the World Hypertension Day, has evaluated the side effects of talking on the mobile phone for 30 minutes or more a week. It says prolonged mobile phone use can increase risk of high blood pressure or hypertension.

If you’re wondering how cell phones affect BP, the study indicates that low levels of radiofrequency energy emitted from mobile phones has been linked with an increase in blood pressure.

As per the World Health Organization, nearly 1.3 billion adults aged 30 to 79 years worldwide have high blood pressure. It is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, as well as a leading cause of premature death. Awareness about the causes of hypertension and health problems caused by high BP is important.

The new study highlights that people could be at a 12 percent increased risk of new-onset hypertension compared to those who talk on the phone for less than 30 minutes, according to research published in European Heart Journal – Digital Health, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). It was conducted by researchers from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, evaluated 212,046 participants aged between 37 and 73, and without prior hypertension.

Blood pressure machine
Healthy blood pressure levels are important. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Beyond hypertension: Know more side effects of mobile phone use

Over time, health experts have been vocal about the health risks associated with mobile phones on children as well as adults.

Dr Ather Pasha, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, tells Health Shots that talking on the phone for extended periods of time can potentially have a few side effects on our physical and mental health. Let us take a look at some common ways in which it can hamper our health.

1. Increases muscle tension

The doctor says one of the most common side effects is muscle tension in the neck, shoulders and arms. Holding the phone for long periods can strain these muscles, leading to discomfort and lead to headaches.

2. Ear pain or damage to eardrum

This is another potential side effect of talking too much on a mobile phone. “This can occur if the phone is held too close to the ear or if the volume is too loud,” says Dr Pasha.

Furthermore, constant use of earphones or headphones can cause ear problems like tinnitus. It can be distressing and can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, leading to anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.

Woman with ear pain
Excessive phone use can cause ear pain or problems! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Phone exposure can hamper eyes

Looking at the phone screen for prolonged periods of time can cause eye strain, which can lead to dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches. Screen time can also lead to obesity.

4. Affects focus

If you’re talking on the phone while doing other tasks such as driving or operating machinery, it can be distracting and potentially dangerous. This can be particularly hazardous if you’re driving and need to stay focused on the road to avoid accidents.

5. Stress

Dr Pasha points out that emotionally charged or stressful phone conversations can lead to increased stress levels, which can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. And as we all know already, it is essential to manage our stress levels to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Use your mobile phone with caution

Excessive phone use may lead to these temporary side effects. But they can be alleviated by taking breaks, stretching and practicing good posture. If you experience persistent pain or discomfort as a result of talking on the phone, iseek medical advice.

While phone conversations can be convenient and necessary for communication, take appropriate measures to minimize the risk. Follow these tips to reduce your phone usage.

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