Have you heard of “touch disease?” Not, it’s not a medical illness that you should personally be concerned about. Rather, touch disease is a technical problem that affects some touchscreen devices, including smartphones and tablet computers.

The Origins of Touch Disease

Touch disease has origins dating back to 2016, during which thousands of iPhone 6 users were reporting touchscreen problems with their handset. Users found that after dropping their iPhone 6 on the floor, it would fail to register their touch commands. In some cases, the problem went away shortly thereafter. In others, it remains present for months. Because it was such a common problem affecting the iPhone 6, the problem was coined “touch disease.”

Apple responded by saying that some iPhone 6 handsets may experience touchscreen or display problems after being dropped “multiple times” on the floor. The Cupertino company also acknowledged that it would fix the damaged handsets free of charge.

What Caused Touch Disease in the iPhone 6?

As the problem surrounding the iPhone 6 increased, a repair website called iFixit sought to investigate the cause of the handset’s touch disease. After breaking apart the iPhone 6, the website found that faulty chips in the iPhone 6 would become damaged upon impact. If a user dropped his or her iPhone 6, for example, these chips would break off the main circuit, become bent or otherwise damaged, thus preventing the iPhone 6 from properly registering the user’s commands.

Touch Disease Can Affect Other Touchscreen Devices

Although touch disease was originally used to describe a specific touchscreen problem affecting the iPhone 6, it’s since been used to describe similar touchscreen problems in other devices. Whenever a touchscreen device fails to respond to a user’s touch commands after being dropped on the floor, it’s generally considered to have touch disease.

You can prevent touch disease, however, by following a few steps. First and foremost, invest in a high-quality touchscreen device that’s manufactured by a reputable vendor. Low-quality, poorly made touchscreen devices are more likely to have design flaws that leave them susceptible to touch disease.

When using your touchscreen device, try to avoid dropping it on the floor. I know this is probably easier said than done — no one intentionally drops their device on the floor — but taking a more cautious approach when handing your touchscreen device can prevent accidental drops, which could otherwise cause touch disease.

For smartphones, tablet computers and other small-sized touchscreen devices, consider using a protective case. A hard protective case will absorb some of the force if you accidentally drop your touchscreen device on the ground.