Last updated: Jun 29, 2010
Who knew? Your BlackBerry or iPhone is the real culprit.
We all know that poor posture at the keyboard can cause aches and pains, but too much text messaging can also increase the risk of neck and shoulder pain, according to a recent Temple University study. It turns out that the way the body is positioned for texting (stationary shoulders and back with rapidly moving fingers) is very similar to the position for typing on a computer, possibly priming you for neck pain, says study author Judith Gold, ScD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Temple University's College of Health Professions and Social Work.
The Rx? Vary your positionsometimes text with hands in your lap, other times with hands higher upbecause holding one position for long periods is what may cause the pain. You can also get relief with this quick stretching routine, courtesy of Tanya Boulton, managing teacher of PURE Yoga East in New York City: While seated, tilt your head to the right and raise your right arm up and over your head, gently resting your hand on the left side of your head; close your eyes and hold for 6–8 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Then interlace your fingers behind your head, drop your chin down toward your chest, and draw your elbows toward each other; hold for 6–8 breaths.
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More about headaches
Who knew? Napping isn't helping.
You may know that sleep problems can trigger headaches, but if you take naps to try to get some relief, you may actually make the problem worse, a recent study suggests. “Napping during the day can lead to insomnia at night, and lack of sleep makes you even more susceptible to headache pain,” explains study author Jason Ong, PhD, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Training Program at Rush University Medical Center.
To break the cycle, try skipping your nap and going to bed earlier. If you are still plagued by headachesor are tossing and turning at nightsee your doctor to discuss treatment options. One to try: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which may help you better deal with the stress that may be causing both headaches and insomnia.
You assume … You're just destined to keep getting pesky UTIs.
Who knew? Your supermarket chicken may be to blame.
Sounds crazy, but it's true, according to a study published this past January in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. When researchers surveyed chickens from local supermarkets and restaurants, they found that the strains of E. coli bacteria in the poultry were the same as those causing urinary tract infections (UTIs) among women in the area. “E. coli can live in your intestine without making you sick. But when it passes through your digestive system, it ends up in your anal area and can be swept into your urethra during sex, causing the UTI,” explains study author Amee Manges, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal. “Unfortunately, because many chickens are fed antibiotics to prevent disease while alive, the bacteria present may be already resistant to some common antibiotics.”
Your best protection? Avoid ingesting E. coli in the first place. Manges recommends cooking chicken thoroughly to kill bacteria and washing hands, utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot soapy water to avoid cross-contamination. You may also want to buy antibiotic-free chicken when possible, to reduce the chance of being exposed to drug-resistant bacteria. And it doesn't hurt to practice a few good hygiene rules for UTI prevention: pee after sex to flush bacteria from your urethra, and wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
Who knew? Using saline sprays and rinses every day can make it worse.
If you've been stuffed up this summer, chances are good you've reached for an over-the-counter saline product, like a spray or neti pot, to clear your nose. But don't overdo ita recent study suggests that rinsing too much may do more harm than good. Researchers have found that daily users of these products who laid off the habit reported 62 percent fewer cases of sinusitis. “If you're constantly rinsing your nose, you're getting rid of the good mucus in your nostrils that fights viruses, bacteria, and fungi. And this actually makes you more susceptible to coming down with a cold or having it develop into a sinus infection,” says study author Talal Nsouli, MD, director of the Watergate Allergy and Asthma Center in Washington, D.C. “It's fine to use a saline spray for a week or two to treat a cold or allergies, but if you need to go longer than that, you should see your internist or an allergist to get to the root of the problem.” If allergies are to blame, try an OTC medicated nasal spray such as NasalCrom, a prescription steroid spray such as Rhinocort Aqua, or an OTC antihistamine such as Claritin.
You assume … You've got acid reflux.
Who knew? The meds you take to treat it could actually cause it.
Make sure you've really got acid reflux before you reach for the meds. “Many doctors prescribe acid reflux drugs for any gastrointestinal (GI)-related symptom, but these won't help if you actually have another condition with similar symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome,” says Health's Medical Editor Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, a gastroenterologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “And when you stop your stomach acid with medication, your body may respond by producing more acid to compensate, so when you go off of the drug you've got all this increased acid secretion that can make you have reflux even if you didn't to start with.” In fact, a recent Dutch study published in the journal Gastroenterology found that when adults with no history of acid reflux took an over-the-counter or prescription acid reflux drug, 44 percent reported at least one acid-related symptom over the next month after they stopped. If you think you have acid reflux, Dr. Rajapaksa says your first step should be to try lifestyle changes such as switching to a low-acid diet or eating more frequent, smaller meals. If that doesn't work, see a GI specialist to rule out other possible conditions before you self-medicate.
Who knew? You might be allergic to them.
“One of the most common allergies I see in my practice is to neomycin, a common ingredient in antibiotic creams,” says dermatologist Donald Belsito, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “Patients use it to treat a rash they think is infected, and then are surprised to see the rash get much worse.” In fact, neomycin is the fifth most common skin allergen, and 10 percent of people with suspected allergic-skin disease are actually allergic to neomycin. Another relatively common rash inducer: OTC or prescription cortisone creams, which, ironically, are normally used to treat allergic reactions like contact dermatitis. “Unfortunately, many non-dermatologists aren't aware of steroid allergies. So they'll prescribe a cortisone cream to a patient with a rash, and when the rash gets worse prescribe stronger creams, causing a vicious cycle,” Dr. Belsito says. If you think you have one of these allergies, your doctor can diagnose it with a simple skin test.