Okay let's be real: We all sleep way too close to our phones and phone chargers (let me guess: It's your alarm clock, right?). But after seeing what a generic phone charger did to a 19-year-old's neck, you might consider sleeping with your beloved device at least an arm's length away.
The girl's story, outlined in a new case report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, is especially terrifying because it's so damn common: "She was lying on her bed with the end of a generic (non-Apple brand) iPhone charger underneath her pillow. The charger was plugged into an electrical outlet but was not plugged into the telephone," the report explains.
"She was also wearing a long, chain necklace. Sometime after lying down, she felt a sudden burning sensation and severe pain around her neck." The girl pulled the necklace from her neck and went to the emergency room.
Luckily, the incident didn't cause anything worse than a burn around her neck, which doctors think happened when the electric current from the phone charger touched the girl's necklace, which transmitted the current to her skin. She was treated with morphine, and her wound was debrided. (This means doctors had to remove bits of her necklace or damaged tissue or both.)
The report warns that not only burns, but also electrocutions can be caused by phone chargers—which means that making sure your phone charger is out-of-reach at night is pretty essential for your health, says Baruch Fertel, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic. That's because an electric current is going through that phone charger, says Dr. Fertel And with electricity, the charger also produces heat—two things that can up your risk of suffering from a burn. He adds that chargers that deviate from manufacturer specifications, such as the one the girl in the case report was using, are especially dangerous
Of course, burns aren't the only reason not to sleep with your phone right next to you. Phones can also disrupt your sleep, which is important from both a physical and mental health point of view, says Dr. Fertel. And sleeping with your phone physically on your face (like, if you fall asleep while scrolling Instagram) is also unhealthy on your skin and eyes.
So the next time you're drowsing off while trying to keep up with all the group chats you're in, maybe try to remember this girl's story, and put the phone down.
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