Potential Health Hazards of Wearing a Tie
Fashion Health Hazards
Aside from the chemicals or items used in fashion today, most people don't think about garments or products themselves as actually being a health hazard--in and of themselves.
However, studies now show that items that we insist on wearing, like women's killer high heels, baggy pants or even tight jeans can have health repercussions. But the lowly necktie?
One would think that the tie as a fashion accessory would be exempt from the list of harmful things you can wear but not so.
There are actually several health hazards associated with tie wear and some of them are quite serious.
Health Risks of Wearing a Necktie
Wearing a tie has become synonymous with white collar jobs. The necktie is also becoming more and more a part of women's attire as they climb the corporate ladder.
Members of both sexes wear all different types and styles of ties and some would say the tighter and "nattier" they are, the better they look.
But does wearing a necktie put you at increased risk for certain health problems?
Unbelievably it does. In some cases, it is not so much the tie itself but rather how it is tied or even the degree of tightness.
It also has to do with the way someone's neck is--is it thin, is it fat or thick?
Another factor is the collar itself--if a collar is too tight, it adds even more potential for harm.
Ways wearing a tie can be hazardous to your health
- If you work around machinery--there is a very real risk of getting a tie caught in gears or other parts of machinery which can lead to tragic events.
Solution: Wear a clip-on or a bow tie--it could save your life or prevent serious injury as it will most likely pull off (if a clip-on) or not be an issue (bow tie).
- Wearing a tie and being exposed to people with disease can lead to infections of all kinds. For instance if a doctor leans over a patient and his or her tie flops down onto the patient, when the physician walks away, he's carrying that bacteria or germs with him or her away on his tie.
Solution: Wear a clip-on or a bow tie and cut out the germs.
- Tight ties can cause a rise in intraocular pressure. Rises in intraocular pressures while not always indicative of glaucoma, is a risk factor for glaucoma.
Solution: Loosen up--wear a loose fitting tie and collar, especially if you have a fat or thick neck.
- Wearing tight ties can reduce blood flow to the brain, namely the cerebral vessels which are common locations for strokes especially in young males with no other risk factors. While it might be a stretch to think that ties could cause a stroke, it is thought by researchers to be a risk factor where no other history can explain a vascular insult.
Solution: Wear a looser fitting tie or collar, a clip-on or a bow tie.
- Neck and musculoskeletal base of skull pain and muscle contraction can result from wearing ties that are tied too tightly.
Solution: Switch to a bow tie or clip-on or use a looser knot.
Can Tight Ties Cause Blindness?
While studies such as the 2003 British Journal of Ophthalmology study do not conclusively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that tight neckties can cause glaucoma (the #1 cause of blindness in the world), they do point to tight necktie wear as a risk factor.
Studies have shown that wearing a tight necktie for only 5 minutes raises intraocular pressure substantially. This is because a tight tie or even a tight collar puts pressure on the jugular vein which in turn increases the pressure within the eye.
There is no concrete evidence to support that prolonged tie wear in a too-tight state will cause someone to get glaucoma, but researchers do warn against the potential for it if the eye pressures remain elevated over long periods of time. The elevation in pressure itself is a highly volatile risk factor for someone to develop glaucoma, especially beyond the age of 40 or 50 and increasingly past 60 and 70.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists have started recommending that people coming in for eye exams should not wear tight fitting clothing or accessories around their necks for this same reason. The increased pressure on and constriction of the jugular vein may lead to falsely elevated eye pressures on glaucoma testing, which in turn may lead to a misdiagnosis.
So while there is no hardcore evidence at this time that wearing a tight tie will hurry you along to developing glaucoma, it definitely is being labeled a risk factor and something to be avoided.
How to Tie a Healthier Tie
There are many different ways to tie a tie--here are just a few.
Remember most of all---keep it loose!
Rule of thumb for pressure around your neck
- You can insert 2 or 3 fingers between your collar, your tie, your jewelry, your scarf and your neck. This is a safe amount of pressure on your jugular vein.
Tight Scarves and Neckties
While neckties are the fashion accessory that has been targeted in most of these studies, this author would encourage including scarves and necklaces in these potential health hazards.
Most of the same principles apply including working around machinery, increasing intraocular pressures and wearing tight fitting clothes or jewelry around your neck.
Remember to remove any constricting garments before you go to see an eye doctor as it may falsely elevate your glaucoma test pressures which could lead to a diagnosis of glaucoma not truly present.
Consider the effects of tight clothing or accessories on the jugular vein, the largest vein in the neck which increases pressure in the brain and in the eye if compressed.
Be aware that if someone is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing or speaking, always check to see if their collar is too tight or if they are wearing a tie. Removing it or loosening it should be the first line of treatment.