Rx for readers: Carry on

If taken with you, a laptop and equipment should weigh less than 3 kilos and have a screen that is at least 14 inches diagonally.

Laptop 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Laptop 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I am entering university as an 18-year-old Israel Defense Forces academic program student this year and plan to use my new notebook laptop computer – a gift from my parents – for taking notes during lectures instead of a notebook. Thus I plan to use it for many hours at a time. I understand that it can be harmful to health to work with it on my lap. As it is small and light in weight, the screen is not large and may cause eyestrain. What advice do you have for avoiding problems? A.G., Tel Aviv
The Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene comments:
During academic studies, the laptop computer becomes the student’s best friend. It is accessible, convenient, mobile and easy to use and seems to be perfect – but careless use can trigger chronic health problems.
Laptops are not ergonometric, as every individual is built differently. Often, the chair one sits in is not suited to working with a laptop. This can put pressure on the upper body, cause neck pains and strain the eyes when trying to look at the screen from an unsuitable angle.
The bending of the wrists while writing or overuse of the mouse or touchpad can cause orthopedic problems. Carrying a laptop in a case asymmetrically on one side of the body, as well as leaning over the laptop while using it, can cause back pains. In addition, overheating of the groin if the laptop is placed directly on the knees can cause infertility problems.
If taken with you, a laptop and its equipment should weigh less than three kilos.
The screen should ideally be at least 14 inches diagonally. The bigger the keys, the better, and an adjustable screen is desirable.
Make sure the laptop doesn’t wobble on your desktop in class, and don’t keep it directly on your lap because the chronic heat can affect male fertility.
Long battery life will minimize the need to take heavy cables with you to classes. A wrist cushion to lie between the keyboard and the front edge of the table is recommended.
An external mouse attached to a USB socket may be more comfortable for you than the touch pad. Going into the control panel, you can change the amount of pressure you need to use for the keys to register letters and numbers. If you are writing from home for a long time, it may be preferable for you to attach a regular keyboard and screen to the laptop. Stretch periodically. Don’t remain in the exact same position for more than 15 minutes.
Blinking your eyes and frequent breaks in which you focus on a distant point for a minute or two are recommended.
If these measures don’t help you avoid pain and discomfort, consult with a physician.
I’ve got a perspiration problem. All my undershirts and shirts become stained yellow at the armpits. I tried to solve the problem by buying some orange-colored shirts, but that is not a solution. From the amount of liquids I drink every day, I find that I perspire more of the total liquids than the amount that I urinate. The discoloration of my clothing also doesn’t seem to be normal. What are the treatment possibilities? Prior to a prostate operation a few years ago, I didn’t seem to have that problem. Could there be a connection? S.S., Hadera
Dr. Rafael Reisfeld, a graduate of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School who now works as a private surgeon in Los Angeles and specializes in the surgical treatment of focal hyperhidrosis, comments:
From the details that were provided by the reader, who underwent prostate surgery, I assume he is around 65 years of age.
Because of the late onset of the condition, he does not represent a typical patient suffering from hyperhidrosis (excessive perspiration).
Due to his age, he probably should not undergo surgery for this condition.
But he can try aluminum chloride antiperspirant, which can help him with his problem, and he should try first all conservative measures that are available. Any good dermatologist may prescribe some anti-chlinergic medications such as robinol forte 2 mg. or propantheline bromide 15 mg., which are available in Israel. I doubt that there is any connection between his prostate surgery and his hyperhidrosis.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or e-mail it to jsiegel@jpost.com.