We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed, overdone it on a Saturday night, or put on extra pounds in all the wrong places. But how do we undo the damage?
Hangovers, cellulite, heartburn, and other common health annoyances can sometimes seem impossible to get rid of, but often there’s a quick solutionor at least a good way to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We collected expert advice on what to do when the unpleasant strikes. Follow these tips to find the best cure for what ails you.
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What causes them:Beverages such as red wine, coffee, and dark soda can do a number on your pearly whites.
What to do: Toothpastes with special chemicals or polishes and store-bought whitening products may lighten your teeth a shade or two, but for more effective treatments, ask your dentist about stronger, in-office procedures. You can also try this natural approach to teeth brightening: Crush a strawberry to a pulp and mix it with baking soda until blended. Use a soft toothbrush to spread the mixture onto your teeth, and leave on for five minutes before brushing it off. (Just be sure not to do this more than once a week, as too much acid from the fruit can damage your teeth's enamel.)
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What causes it: "Alcohol is a toxin, and if you drink too much, your body has to work overtime to metabolize that toxin," says Steven Lamm, MD, house doctor on ABC's The View. "The short answer here is that it's not about the cure, it's about prevention."
What to do: Still, refuelling with lots of water, fruit juice, and healthy foods can help undo some of the damage. Bananas and pretzels, for example, can replenish sodium and potassium and boost your blood sugar. For a quick fix, pop an ibuprofen; it can relieve headache pain and reduce swelling caused by alcohol's inflammatory effects.
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Bags under eyes
What causes it: Because the skin under your eyes is so thin, the underlying blood vessels can be more obvious. When these blood vessels become inflamed (from stress, crying, or not enough sleep), it shows on your face as dark or puffy areas under your eyes.
How to fix it: To restrict blood vessels, use an eye cream with caffeine. To cover up damage that's already done, try a creamy concealer that's one shade lighter than your own skin tone; match it to the inside of your arm, which tends to be the lightest skin on your body.
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Excess gas usually is a result of what you eat or how you eat it, Dr. Lamm says. Many people have trouble processing certain foodsdairy and gluten products are two big onesand the digestive system creates excess gas.
If you find that particular foods give you a lot of gas, avoiding themor taking a supplement such as Beano with themmay help. You can also cut out behaviors that may cause you to swallow a lot of air, such as drinking carbonated beverages, chewing gum, and eating or drinking too quickly, Dr. Lamm says.
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What causes it: Halitosisa.k.a. stinky breathcomes from certain gasses released from your body or by bacteria, either in your mouth or your sinuses.
What to do: Treating the underlying cause, such as a sinus infection or a digestion issue, may be the fastest way to fix the problem. But if your bad breath is persistent, talk to your dentist to rule out gum disease, plaque, or gingivitis. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily can keep harmful bacteria at bay, and avoiding foods with potent odors (such as garlic, onions, and coffee) may help as well.
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If your larger-than-normal pectorals are a result of being overweight, there's a simple cure: Eat healthier, work out, and build muscle.
For some men, however, enlarged breast tissuealso called gynecomastiacan be the result of a decrease in testosterone or an increase in estrogen, Dr. Lamm says. Some drugs and herbal products can be to blame, and serious conditions, such as cancer, an overactive thyroid, or a hormone problem, may also be involved, so talk to your doctor ASAP if you've noticed a change in your chest.
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These tiny, soft flaps of skin may appear on the neck, armpits, and upper trunk. Experts don't know what causes them, Dr. Lamm says, but they do know that the growths tend to appear after middle age. They also know how to get rid of them. "A dermatologist can just snip them off at a regular doctor's visit," he says. (But don't try this at home!)
Dr. Lamm warns, however, that people who have skin tags may also have polyps in their colon. "If you all of a sudden have a lot of these on your skin, talk to your doctor about getting a colon study," he says.
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What causes it: The searing pain in your chest known as heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows the wrong way back up the esophagus.
How to fix it: To prevent it from happening in the future, avoid overeating; identify and avoid "trigger" foods, such as caffeine, chocolate, and anything spicy; and cut back on alcohol, which can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow back up.
What causes it: "Cottage cheese thighs," happens when the skin covering your butt and thighs loses firmness, allowing underlying fat to push through toward the surface.
What to do: There's no magic cure, but there are ways to reduce its appearance, with exercises targeting your glutes, hamstrings, and thighs. "Skin-firming" creams and lotions, which claim to smooth by stimulating circulation, may reduce cellulite's appearance temporarily. If you're willing to pay for more permanent results, laser technologies performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons could improve the look long term.
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Stress and anxiety
The key to handling any stressful situation with ease is to be prepared, Dr. Lamm says. Prioritize your schedule, don't take on more than you can handle, and practice time-management techniqueswhether that means carrying a calendar everywhere you go, programming reminders into your cell phone, or setting a goal to take care of problems as soon as they arise.
While you're at it, be sure to schedule some time to do something relaxing: yoga, meditation, exercise, or even just a few minutes of deep breathing.
Need to calm down fast? Squeeze the fleshy part between your index finger and thumb for 30 seconds; in traditional Chinese medicine, this is believed to relieve stress and tension in the upper body.
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What causes it: Tossing and turning often occurs when we don't properly prepare our bodies for sleep, Dr. Lamm says. "We go from high-intensity stimulation of the brainrunning around outside, watching TV, being on the computerand expect ourselves to just flow smoothly to sleep," he says. "That doesn't happen."
How to fix it: Give yourself time before bed to mentally unwind. If that doesn't help, ask yourself if you can pinpoint the reason for your sleeplessness. Is it digestion issues? Stress? A new schedule? Once you address the underlying cause, your sleep may improve on its own; if not, talk to your doctor about sleep medications or behavioral therapy to get you back on track.
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"A headache is not a diagnosis; it's a symptom," Dr. Lamm says. The first thing to do when treating one is to determine what caused it. "People may not appreciate how much lifestyle contributes to headaches," he says. "If you're not sleeping, or stressed about work, or on a new medication, or if you have five cups of coffee one day and none the nextthose things can all contribute."
To help relieve the pain, try over-the-counter painkillers. You may also consider alternative treatment and prevention options, such as biofeedback, acupuncture, regular aerobic exercise, or neck and shoulder massages.
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What causes it: Hormone fluctuations common in menopausal and older-middle-aged women cause these drastic increases in body temperature.
How to fix it: A small 2008 study found that women who practiced yoga with breathing exercises and meditation five days a week had 50 percent fewer hot flashes and night sweats than those who simply stretched. You also may consider adding soy milk, tofu, or edamame (which contain estrogen-like compounds) to your diet. Supplements, such as black cohosh, may reduce symptoms as well, but few have solid evidence supporting their effects.
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What causes it: That chub spilling over your jeans isn't just unsightlyit's unhealthy too. "Fat around your belly can be a reflection of fat in your gut and in your liver, and that's when you start seeing people at an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease," says Dr. Lamm.