I didn’t sneeze much when I was a kid. Neither did many of my friends.
Presumably it’s because we didn’t have iPods.
New studies say technology causes allergies, just like pollen, mold and dust.
“Technophiles should take caution that some of their favorite gadgets may be the culprit of certain allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Todd Rosengart, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Hospital on Long Island, NY and chief medical advisor of MDX Medical, the company that created Vitals.com, a doctor evaluation site.
Researchers have been warning for years that excessive cell phone use can create electromagnetic sensitivity resulting in skin rashes, fatigue and headaches.
But now Rosengart is taking those claims one step farther. He suggests cell phones and other wireless technologies can increase sensitivity to allergens and potentially worsen typical allergic reactions such as watery eyes or a runny nose.
Cell phones, he adds, could also affect users with skin allergies to various metals and materials used in manufacturing. When nickel, one of the leading reactors of skin allergies, is used to produce cell phone casings and batteries, cell phone users become susceptible to allergic contact dermatitis, an allergy that causes rashes and other skin conditions.
Like cell phones, the anodizing chemicals or the metals in some iPods can also cause music lovers to develop skin rashes and bumps after extended exposure to their portable music players, he contends.
For a generation of parents who lured their watery-eyed kids indoors with Game Boys, PSPs and other handheld wireless devices, it’s disturbing news.
It’s as disconcerting as the revelation our parents received about the risks of childhood sunburn—after years of constantly forcing us “to go outside and get some sun,” sans sunscreen.
We thought we were smarter. We kept our kids out of the sun, away from those nasty plants and flowers, and swaddled them in blankets with built-in speakers for their mp3 players. We didn’t take a chance letting them wander around unsupervised: we kept them safe with kiddie cell phones, linked to the ones we carried ourselves by the click of a single button.
We ignored the critics who compared parent-child cell phones to electronic umbilical cords. But it’s harder to ignore warnings about the obvious physical manifestations of our obsessions, especially if our head and sinuses already hurt from the allergies we’ve given ourselves by talking too long on our cell phones.
There are two choices: Give up the technology or deal with tech allergies.
I tried to leave my cell phone at home for a single day. But I kept fantasizing I was missing something important, like a call from a telemarketer telling me I’d won an Irish Lottery I never entered. And it was even more problematic to forgo my iPod. I thought I could just occupy my rambling mind by humming my favorite songs to myself.
But I generally forget to mute the volume:
My singing is off-key, and I randomly substitute my own words for the lyrics I never bothered to learn.
That behavior attracts unwanted attention in public places. (It also makes some children cry from embarrassment, but you can always blame the tears on their tech allergies.)
So I’m keeping the cell phone and the iPod, despite the risk of allergies. I’ll just stock up on Zyrtec. Good thing it’s now available over-the-counter.