Have you ever experienced prolonged or recurring hiccups? Or are you, perhaps, suffering from bad breath? While these conditions are a long way from being life-threatening, they can be annoyingly difficult to treat; medications available on the market usually take time before showing any significant results. Check out these annoying health issues and how to deal with them the best way possible.
1. Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis)
One of the most common and hard-to-treat conditions, toenail fungus is often characterized by a whitish-yellowish or even brownish tinge to your nails. Nails affected by fungal growth start to become brittle and thick, and can even change in shape. When allowed to progress without being addressed, nail fungus can make wearing shoes painful and uncomfortable.
Athletes who fail to practice good foot hygiene often have this condition. As is known to many, fungus thrives in moist and dark places, and dirty and wet socks and shoes are ‘heaven’ to these microorganisms. Throw sweaty feet into the equation, and fungal growth is practically guaranteed.
People with a sedentary lifestyle, or who have compromised immunity and vascular problems can be prone to fungal infection. Diabetic patients find nail fungus detrimental to their health as they will be even more prone to infection. How? When the affected nails break in the skin, this will then serve as a entry point for bacteria, and cause even more problems.
Experts usually prescribe oral and topical antifungal drugs to help alleviate this condition. You can ask your physician which is safer, as some combine both types of drugs to yield better results. If you want to try high-tech treatment, laser and photodynamic therapy are available. These are more expensive though.
If you want home remedies, there are some that are quite effective. Tea tree oil, vitamin E and other essential oils have great antifungal capabilities. Vicks VapoRub, according to a study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 2011, showed to have significant improvements on 15 out of 18 people with toenail fungus- without side effects.
While there are different kinds of treatment out there, people should know that it takes a long period of time before the affected toenails are successfully cured.
Have you ever experienced having hiccups after drinking a lot of beer? Well, almost everybody has had this condition after overeating or immediately following a good laugh. And the worst part is, you never know when it will stop. There are dozens of home remedies that are said to be effective but not yet medically proven. Hiccups can last for days or even months–and that may be already considered serious.
Hiccups are actually involuntary contractions in your diaphragm triggered by different things. This spasm causes the air to go inside the voice box very quickly, hence the “hic” sound. Most of us don’t know that there are two types of hiccups–short term and long lasting. Short term hiccups occur for no evident reason, and may be caused by drinking alcohol, overeating, chewing gum, smoking or even by pure emotions. Several home remedies such as drinking lots of water while plugging your ears, breathing into a paper bag, tasting vinegar or get somebody to startle you may seem to work but, eventually, this type of hiccups goes away by itself. So no need to fear!
The second type, which is long term, lasts for more than 48 hours. And this is usually caused by an underlying medical condition such as GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disorder), asthma, pneumonia, stroke, meningitis, diabetes or even stress. Or if you are taking medications for hypertension (methyldopa), anxiety (benzodiazepines), severe pain (opioids) and swelling (corticosteroids); these meds also cause hiccups. If your hiccups are persistent, then it is best to consult your physician, who can prescribe you appropriate medication.
If you happen to feel a burning sensation in your chest after eating or drinking, then that is what experts commonly call heartburn. It is a symptom of acid reflux or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disorder) that is usually accompanied with tummy pain, chronic cough, sore throat or a distinct sour taste in your mouth. Basically, heartburn is caused by the acid in your stomach that goes up until the level of your esophagus.
To avoid experiencing this, you must not drink too much alcohol, or take coffee and fatty foods. Why? Because these have substances that relax the lower esophageal sphincter, thereby making some of the stomach acid move back. Coffee, spices, and some fruits aggravate heartburn which can make you feel unwell.
Lifestyle change also helps in treating this condition. According to a 2006 study of 16 randomized trials in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, weight loss and elevation of the head of the bed (when sleeping) improved the pH level of the esophagus and the GERD symptoms as well. Medical therapy, which involved acid suppression, was also suggested if lifestyle change was not enough to cure this condition.
4. Bad breath (Halitosis)
Excited to go on a date yet you notice that after brushing your teeth, there is still that distinct foul odor? Well, it may seem a cosmetic problem, but bad breath does have undesirable effects on a person – physically and psychologically. Bad breath or halitosis (its medical term) is mainly caused by poor oral hygiene (85%). That is why it is not advisable to brush in a hurry because you may not know the extent of bacteria buildup in your teeth, gums and tongue. Flossing is also very important to get rid of the food particles stuck in between your teeth. Brushing your tongue also helps in removing dirt and bacteria, thereby keeping your breath fresh.
Other causes of bad breath include smoking, crash dieting, the taking of medications, or having illnesses. Some experts also believe that certain foods with strong flavors and spices can also be a cause.
To have clean and fresh breath every day, it is suggested that you thoroughly clean your teeth, gums and tongue. Those with medical conditions such as diabetes and respiratory diseases, on the other hand, best to consult their physician about it.
5. Gas (Flatulence)
If little kids fart, we think it is cute. But if adults release gas in public, it can cause embarrassment. But what if farting is an uncontrollable thing for you and it’s really stinky? Now that is indeed a health problem.
Farts are a result of swallowed air that goes into the digestive tract during respiration. This happens when you chew gum, drink carbonated beverages, or simply eat fast.
Gas produced by bacteria in your lower intestines, also takes part in producing farts. So if you fart regularly, it means you are ingesting enough fiber and the good bacteria in your digestive system, and that it is functioning well. Do not worry if the gas you pass out is stinky because this is due to hydrogen sulfide produced by the food you eat. Even healthy foods produce sulfur-emitting gas, so no need to worry about the stench.
Health conditions such as indigestion, constipation, gastroenteritis, lactose intolerance and giardiasis (parasitic infection in the gut) can also cause flatulence. Taking laxatives, statins, and antifungal medicines may also cause you to pass out gas frequently.
So how do you minimize gas coming out? Avoid sugary fruits and juices as these feed infections in the gut. If you eat food rich in fiber, eat small amounts first. Always introduce fiber slowly to avoid gas buildup. Carbonated drinks also add to gas production, so stick with water and other liquids for hydration.
Experts have said that holding it in (while you are in an enclosed place with people such as the elevator) may make you feel uncomfortable. This may lead to abdominal pain and eventually a hard stomach.
So if you need to let it out, by all means let it out. Or carry a small bottle of peppermint for belly relief. Peppermint has anti-spasmodic properties that naturally soothes your abdomen and helps a lot when you are on the go.
About the author
Sandy Getzky is the executive coordinating editor at The Global Nail Fungus Organization, a group committed to helping the 100+ million people suffering from finger and toenail fungus. Sandy is also a registered Herbalist and member of the American Herbalist’s Guild.