Health Hacks Everyone Should Know
Whether it’s curing a throat tickle, resolving your headache in minutes or experiencing supersonic hearing, these 21 tricks are proven methods of fooling your body to achieve a desired result, whether that’s relieving pain or just having fun.
1. Cure a Tickling Throat
When you were 9, playing your armpit was a cool trick. Now, as an adult, you can still appreciate a good body-based feat, especially if it serves as a health remedy. Take that tickle in your throat: It’s not worth gagging over. Here’s a better way to scratch your itch: Scratch your ear. “When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm,” says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. “This spasm relieves the tickle.”
2. Experience Supersonic Hearing
If you’re stuck chatting up a mumbler at a cocktail party, lean in with your right ear. It’s better than your left at following the rapid rhythms of speech, according to researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to identify that song playing softly in the elevator, turn your left ear toward the sound. The left ear is better at picking up music tones.
3. Calm Yourself With Cold Water
Nerves getting the best of you. Take a deep breath and spash cold water on your face. This triggers the mammalian diving reflex that is genetically in all animals including humans. The lower temperature of the water and you holding your breath also causes your body to think it’s diving into cold water. This reflex allows you to use oxygen more efficiently.
4. Overcome Your Most Primal Urge To Pee
Need to pee? No bathroom nearby? Fantasize about what ever turns you on. Thinking about sex and arousing fantasies preoccupies your brain, so you won’t feel as much discomfort, says Larry Lipshultz, M.D., chief of male reproductive medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
5. Feel No Pain While Giving Blood
Love donating blood but hate the needle prick? German researchers have discovered that coughing during a needle stick can lessen the pain. According to Taras Usichenko, author of a study on the phenomenon, the trick causes a sudden, temporary rise in pressure in the chest and spinal canal, inhibiting the pain-conducting structures of the spinal cord.
6. Swallow Your Horse-Sized Supplements
Those huge health supplements are sometimes a pain to swallow. Want to swallow more than one at a time without gagging? Try this trick to get them down: take a drink of water, and tilt your head forward instead of backward. The capsule should float, and will be at the back of your throat, ready to swallow.
7. Clear Your Stuffed Nose
Forget Sudafed. Here’s an easier, quicker, and cheaper remedy to relieve sinus pressure: Alternate thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you’ll feel your sinuses start to drain.
8. Fight Acid Reflux By Sleeping Position
Worried that chilli will repeat on you tonight? Try this preventive remedy: “Sleep on your left side,” says Anthony A. Starpoli, M.D., a New York City gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College. Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux. The esophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than the esophagus, allowing food and stomach acid to slide up your throat. When you’re on your left, the stomach is lower than the esophagus, so gravity’s in your favor.
9. Cure Your Toothache
Just rub ice on the back of your hand, on the V-shaped webbed area between your thumb and index finger. A Canadian study found that this technique reduces toothache pain by as much as 50 percent compared with using no ice. The nerve pathways at the base of that V stimulate an area of the brain that blocks pain signals from the face and hands.
10. Make Burns Disappear
When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove, clean the skin and apply light pressure with the finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve your pain more quickly, Dr. DeStefano says, but since the natual method brings the burned skin back to a normal temperature, the skin is less likely to blister.
11. Stop the World from Spinning
Feeling dizzy? Put your hand on something stable. The part of your ear responsible for balance–the cupula– floats in a fluid of the same density as blood. “As alcohol dilutes blood in the cupula, the cupula becomes less dense and rises,” says Dr. Schaffer. This confuses your brain. The tactile input from a stable object gives the brain a second opinion, and you feel more in balance. Because the nerves in the hand are so sensitive, this works better than the conventional foot-on-the-floor wisdom.
12. Unstitch Your Side
If you’re like most people, when you run, you exhale as your right foot hits the ground. This puts downward pressure on your liver (which lives on your right side), which then tugs at the diaphragm and creates a side stitch, according to The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Men. The fix: Exhale as your left foot strikes the ground.