In this age of modern information and technology, the threat called Video Game Addiction has been greatly underestimated. Video game players (which include console, computer, and online gamers) are quick to dismiss the detrimental effects of such an addiction; citing that the lack of formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM) and International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems meant that Video Game Addiction is not a disorder and may not be that damaging as others claimed.
But the threat is real and dangerous. Medical experts, clinician, educators, and parents have reported the widespread damaging effects of video game addiction, mostly on children. Here are some of the symptoms, as well as the consequences, of video game addiction.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This symptom has long been associated with video game addiction as a consequence to excessive usage of the computer mouse. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition wherein the carpal tunnel of the wrist has been irritated or swollen to some extent. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a temporary condition that can either heal or progress completely.
Carpal tunnel syndrome has been considered to be one of the most common symptoms, as well as a consequence of video game addiction. Roughly 10% of video game addicts has been diagnose with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpus is a word derived from the Greek word karpos, which means “wrist”. The human wrist is surrounded by a band of fibrous tissue that normally functions as a support for the joint. The tight space between this fibrous band and the wrist bone is called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel to receive sensations from the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Any condition (in video game addiction case is the excessive pressure due to too much mouse usage) that causes swelling or a change in the position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel can squeeze and irritate the median nerve. Any irritation of the median nerve in this manner causes tingling and numbness of the thumb, index, and the middle fingers-a condition known as “carpal tunnel syndrome.”
Symptoms for carpal tunnel syndrome can be noticed initially with slight numbness and tingling of the hand in the distribution meridian nerve (the thumb, index, middle, and part of the fourth fingers). Oftentimes these sensations of numbness can be felt ore pronouncedly at night; and in some cases can cause people to awaken from their sleep. If the disease progresses, it develops a burning sensation in the hand, along with considerable weakness in strength and cramping. A person experiences a decreased in their grip strength leading to frequent dropping of objects from the hand.
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause.
Migraine is another consequence of video game addiction, basically because the person is exposed for extended periods of time to the intense concentration of light from the monitors that eventually strains the eyes.
A migraine headache is a form of vascular headache. Migraine headache is caused by enlargement of the blood vessels that eventually caused the release of chemicals from nerve fibers to the brain. These chemicals in turn cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the blood vessels.
Migraine is a chronic condition with recurrent attacks. Most, but not all, migraine attacks are associated with headaches. It is usually described as an intense throbbing or pounding pain that involves one temple of the head.
The pain is sometimes located in the forehead, around the eye, or at the back of the head. The pain is oftentimes unilateral affecting only one side of the head but there are times when the pain is bilateral. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, facial pallor, cold hands, cold feet, and sensitivity to light and sound commonly accompany migraine headaches.
Migraine treatments include therapies that may or may not involve medications. Therapy that does not involve medications can provide symptomatic and preventive therapy. Using of ice, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques may be helpful in stopping an attack once it has started. Sometimes, sleep may be the best medicine for a migraine attack.
Individuals with occasional mild migraine headaches that do not interfere with daily activities usually medicate themselves with over-the-counter (non-prescription) pain relievers (analgesics). Examples of these over-the-counter analgesics are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).
For those who suffer moderate to severe migraines, migraine-specific abortive medications are prescribed necessarily. Examples of migraine-specific abortive medications are the triptans and ergot preparations.
A sleep disturbance, also known as sleep disorder (somnipathy) is a medical disorder of sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental, and environmental functioning.
Sleep disturbances can cover several sleep-related disorders which can includes insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, nocturnal myoclonus (periodic leg or arm 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. Video game addicts who are obsess with their games can trigger an overstimulation of the brain leading to some of the sleep disorders above. Other sleep disturbances are caused by lack of sleep which many video game addicts are guilty of (with around 2 to 4 hours of sleep per day).
Treatments for sleep disorders general can be grouped into four categories: behavioral/psychotherapeutic treatments, rehabilitation/management, medications, and other somatic treatments. But none of these general approaches are sufficient enough for all patients with sleep disorders.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches, and sleep disorders are the main symptoms and consequences of video game addiction. But they are not the only consequence of being addicted to video games. Other ailments such as backaches and eye damage can also occur to video game addicts. With the ante being explained and raised to a new level, knowing that this diseases and ailments can be a lifetime sickness, can we simply ignore the warning signs that looms above the word Video game Addiction. In the end we ask ourselves, “Is video game addiction really worth the price we pay?”