Medical transcription doesn’t exactly top the list of hazardous jobs. You may not be handling radioactive material or smelting iron or even treating sick patients, but desk jobs like medical transcription come with their own set of deathtraps that can be just as risky long-term. For the sake of your health, check out these 6 common health hazards and a few foolproof tricks to stay healthy on the job as a medical transcriptionist.
Hazard 1: Eyestrain
Focusing on the computer screen all day can result in tired, dry eyes, worsened vision, and headaches.
• Mayo Clinic recommends the 20-20-20 rule to help with eyestrain: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
• Blink more! It sounds silly, but blinking coats the eye with a fresh layer of tears. It is difficult to relearn blinking habits, so you may want to invest in some over-the-counter eye drops to relieve dryness while you practice blinking exercises.
• If you wear contacts or glasses, make sure your prescription is up-to-date. You could be straining even more from inaccurate lenses.
• A few times a day, close your eyes and massage the muscles around your eyes, brow, and forehead.
Hazard 2: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis
Carpal tunnel is an injury caused by repetitive irritation and compression of nerves in the wrist while tendonitis is inflammation of tendons due to overuse. Both conditions result in swelling, pain, numbness, and lack of hand/wrist control, making it agonizing to do your job.
• Invest in an ergonomic mouse and keyboard. By maintaining a proper angle during repetitive actions like clicking or typing, you will reduce irritation to the nerves and tendons.
• Give your hands and wrists frequent breaks. Stretch and bend them, and make sure your hands stay warm while you work.
• A wrist brace can reduce strain and pain even if worn for only a few hours a day or during activities other than typing.
• Remember your posture! Ideally, elbows form a 90-degree or larger angle, forearms are parallel to the floor, and shoulders are back and level. Also make sure your chair is adjusted to the right height; the computer screen should be on the same level as your eyes.
Hazard 3: Back Pain
Unfortunately, desk jobs are one of the leading causes of back pain.
• Promote good posture by using a chair that allows you to rest both your feet flat on the floor or use a footstool. You can also place a small pillow behind your lower back for support, and be sure your back pockets are empty—the thicker the wallet, the more crooked you sit.
• Take small breaks, changing position occasionally, standing up and stretching, or taking a small walk. This will relieve back tension and help you stay alert on the job.
Hazard 4: Dehydration
Working in an air-conditioned environment causes increased water loss, and it can also be difficult to remember to drink water throughout the day. Dehydration may lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, dry skin, parched mouth, unfounded hunger, and headaches.
• Bring a reusable water bottle to work and be sure to keep it in direct sight. Choose a water “ritual” that works best for you: set a calendar reminder throughout the day, drink a bottle every hour on the hour, take a swig every time you open a new document, etc.
• Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day instead of sweetened beverages and packaged food—they actually increase dehydration.
Hazard 5: Stress
Medical transcriptionists often work under strict deadlines with expectations of perfect accuracy. This stress can contribute to serious medical conditions like heart disease and depression.
• To alleviate work-related stress, Mayo Clinic recommends physical exercise, meditation, and yoga. Can’t find the time to exercise? Take 3, 10-minute walks throughout the day or climb 10 flights of stairs during lunch.
• Eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, and avoid overuse of caffeine and alcohol.
Hazard 6: Weight gain
Poor food habits combined with a sedentary job is a recipe for weight gain.
• Brownbag it! Fixing your lunch at home instead of going out saves calories and money.
• Stay hydrated with water and avoid sweetened drinks and snacking on packaged food throughout the day.
• Get a little exercise; short, brisk exercise temporarily curbs your appetite by boosting and suppressing certain hormones. It also fires up your metabolism and helps you feel more energetic—a win/win. Find a walking buddy, do 5 minutes of jumping jacks 3 times a day, or do wall sits while on the phone.
Stay healthy at your desk by arming yourself with these easy health tricks. What strategies have helped you stay healthy on the job or in medical transcription training? Let us know in the comments below! Considering a career in medical transcription? Check out more information here.