Physical Consequences of Gaming Addiction

You've been searching all day. You've traveled hundreds of miles, sometimes backtracking to make sure you haven't missed anything. Some areas are so infested with hostile creatures that you've been prevented from continuing on your journey until the creatures were destroyed. After all that, you've finally ... finally, found what you've been looking for - the secret passage that transports you to another place. You've moved up to the next level! You're so excited that you barely notice how much your back hurts, nor do you notice that you're on the verge of getting a migraine headache ... again.

It may sound like a strange story, but it's all too familiar for video game players ("gamers"). Whether they play on an Xbox or online, they enter worlds filled with witches, elves, dragons, and more, by traveling to mysterious and sometimes secret locations. They spend so much time in this other world, they begin to do physical damage to their bodies.

Physical consequences of gaming addiction include carpal tunnel, migraines, sleep disturbances, backaches, eating irregularities, and poor personal hygiene.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome has long been associated with computer use, so it's no surprise that it's a physical symptom of gaming addiction. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the main nerve between the forearm and hand is squeezed or pressed. This occurs when the carpal tunnel - the area of the wrist that houses the main nerve and tendons - becomes irritated or swollen. Overuse of a computer mouse can cause such irritation and swelling, as can excessive use of a video game controller.

Migraine headaches typically start in one spot and slowly spread, getting more painful as they progress. In severe cases, the pain can be so extreme that it causes the sufferer to vomit. Light and noise can cause excruciating pain. Someone who plays video games for extended periods of time is more prone to migraines because of the intense concentration required and the strain put on the eyes.

Sleep Disturbances
The term "sleep disturbances" covers several sleep-related disorders, including insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, nocturnal myoclonus (periodic leg or arms jerks during sleep), and parasomnia (i.e., night terrors, sleepwalking or talking, and nightmares). Sleep disturbances are caused, in part, by overstimulation of the brain. However, some people can't get a good night's sleep simply because they think obsessively about the game they're playing.

Backaches are a common physical symptom of gaming addiction because most gamers stay seated in the same position for hours on end. The lack of movement causes stiffness and soreness, but could deteriorate into chronic back problems.

Eating Irregularities
Eating irregularities are caused by gaming addiction simply because most addicted gamers don't want to take the time to eat properly. Rather than eating healthy, balanced meals, they eat food that is quick and usually unhealthy. In extreme cases, the gamer may choose not to eat at all.

Poor Personal Hygiene
An addicted gamer is not going to take the time to properly care for himself. Showers, face-washing, and brushing hair and teeth all get put on the back burner. It simply becomes less of a priority, if it's a priority at all.

These physical consequences will occur in varying degrees from one gamer to another. Though the severity of physical consequences is often tied to the severity of the addiction, this is not always the case. A gamer that is already in poor physical condition will be more susceptible to these effects early on.

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