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Excessive Gaming Might Soon Be Recognized as an Official Disorder

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Not all addictive behaviors are substance-related. Occasionally, they might involve too many hours on the couch. As BBC News reports, the World Health Organization (WHO) is considering adding gaming addiction to its list of mental health conditions for the first time in its upcoming 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The ICD is "the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions," according to the WHO, the UN's public health agency. Used by doctors and scholars to identify and diagnose diseases, the ICD provides lists of symptoms and signs for various conditions.

The current edition of the ICD was completed in 1992, and the latest version will be published in 2018. A draft of this update lists symptoms of gaming addiction, including the inability to control one's gaming habits, increasingly prioritizing gaming over other activities, and either continuing to game or increasing one's hours spent gaming even after the all-consuming hobby yields negative consequences. It doesn't include prevention and treatment options yet, according to USA Today.

"In a number of countries, [excessive gaming] has become a significant public health concern," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarević told CBC News. "There is increasing and well-documented evidence of clinical relevance of these conditions and increasing demand for treatment in different parts of the world."

The debate over video games is often a heated one. Some experts say they can enhance cognitive function and boost problem-solving abilities, while other researchers point out that that gamers have sedentary lifestyles and can experience mental health issues.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), which published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V, in 2013, hasn't yet provided its own conclusion on gaming. In contrast with the latest ICD draft, the DSM-V classifies excessive internet gaming disorder as a "condition for further study."

[h/t BBC News]

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Health
How Promoting Handwashing Got One 19th Century Doctor Institutionalized
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Regardless of how often we actually do it, it's common knowledge that washing our hands before eating, after coughing, and after using the bathroom is good for us. But the connection between handwashing and health wasn't always accepted as fact. As Danielle Bainbridge explains in the PBS web series Origin of Everything, the first doctor to campaign for cleanliness in hospitals was not only shunned by other medical professionals, but ended up in an insane asylum.

Prior to the 19th century, handwashing primarily existed in the context of religious ceremonies and practices. It plays a role in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism in some form or another. But washing up to stop the spread of disease wasn't really a thing for most of history. People weren't aware of germs, so instead of microbes, they blamed illness on everything from demons to bad air.

Then, in 1846, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis made a breakthrough observation. He noticed that women giving birth with the help of midwives were less likely to die than those treated by doctors. He determined that because doctors were also performing autopsies on victims of puerperal fever (a bacterial infection also known as childbed fever), they were somehow spreading the disease to their other patients. Semmelweis started promoting handwashing and instrument sterilization in his clinic, and the spread of puerperal fever dropped as a result.

Despite the evidence to support his theory, his peers in the medical community weren't keen on the idea of blaming patient deaths on doctors. Partly due to his commitment to the controversial theory, Semmelweis was shunned from his field. He suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital, where he died a few weeks later.

Germ theory did eventually become more mainstream as the century progressed, and washing hands as a way to kill unseen pathogens started gaining popularity. Even so, it wasn't until the 1980s that the CDC released the first official guidelines instructing people on best handwashing practices.

If this story suddenly has you in the mood to practice good hygiene, here's the best way to wash your hands, according to experts.

[h/t Origin of Everything]

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science
Inhaling Cleaning Product Fumes Can Be as Bad for You as a Pack-a-Day Smoking Habit, Study Finds
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People who use spray cleaners on a regular basis may want to reconsider how they tackle their spring cleaning. A new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine [PDF] offers strong evidence that inhalation of these sterilizing and polishing chemicals may be as bad for their lungs as smoking one pack of cigarettes per day, as Newsweek highlights.

A team of scientists led by Cecile Svanes, Ph.D. at Norway’s University of Bergen tracked 6230 study subjects for two decades, looking for a correlation between diminished lung capacity and use of cleaning products. Those who regularly used chemicals for cleaning, like housekeepers, displayed worsening lung function when researchers asked them to blow air into a tube. Even using cleaners once per week was associated with reduced lung capacity.

Those who reported use of the products also had increased rates of asthma when compared to those who did not use cleaners. It’s believed the particles of the abrasive chemicals are damaging the mucus membranes, leading to steady and progressive changes. The results applied to both occupational cleaners as well as those who were responsible for cleaning at home. The study also demonstrated that women were more susceptible to the effects of the chemicals than men, although a comparatively smaller number of men took part.

What can you do to mitigate the risk? Oistein Svanes, a doctoral student who worked on the project, recommends cleaning with a damp microfiber cloth using only water. If you feel you must use a chemical agent, it's better to pour it into a bucket instead of relying on a spray nozzle—the latter is what causes the chemicals to become airborne and respirable.

[h/t Newsweek]

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