They may not be life threatening, but hiccups and other body bothers can be embarrassing, painful and just plain annoying. Most of us dismiss them as occasional nuisances and wait for them to get better on their own. In fact, there are simple steps you can take to make them go away faster - or to prevent them in the first place.
From our friends at Health.com, here are 15 of the most common body annoyances, with info on what causes them, how you should handle them, and when they may warrant a call to your doctor.
What causes them: Hiccups occur when your diaphragm starts contracting involuntarily. Your vocal cords snap shut after every spasm, making that familiar "hic" sound.
What to do: Well-worn remedies, like drinking a glass of water upside down or holding your breath, can help. "Many of these cures actually seem to work by disrupting your breathing cycle in a way that allows the diaphragm to relax and stop its hiccup-causing spasms," says Vreeman, coauthor of "Don't Cross Your Eyes--They'll Get Stuck that Way!"
If your favorite trick doesn't help, your hiccups should subside on their own in a few minutes. Seek medical attention if they last for more than three hours or make it hard to breathe or swallow.
2. Sneezing fits
What causes them: Frequent sneezing fits can mean you're allergic to something in your environment, although it can also signal the beginning of a viral infection. Some people are just prone to multiple sneezes.
What to do: "If you regularly have sneezing fits, you need to think carefully about when they happen and what you might be allergic to," Dr. Vreeman says. "Dust, pollen and animal dander are the most common causes."
If your sneezes happen only during pollen season, or after you pet a dog, you may have allergies. See an allergist to find out for sure. Then, depending on what you're allergic to, avoiding it may be easy; if not, talk to your allergist about treatment.
3. Stiff neck
What causes it: Holding your head in an awkward position for an extended period of time--while using a smartphone or laptop, say--can strain your neck muscles, leading to pain and stiffness.
What to do: Be aware of your posture. If you work in an office, make sure your desk, chair, computer keyboard, and monitor are positioned to let you work comfortably. The same rules apply at home. "The best way to use a laptop is on a desk, not your lap, with the screen at eye level and the keyboard within easy reach," Dr. Raj says. And that goes for iPads and other devices, she adds.
If your stiff neck doesn't respond within a week to home remedies like over-the-counter pain relievers, heating pads, icing, or gentle massage, check with your doctor.
4. Charley horse
What causes it: These painful muscle spasms in the leg or foot can occur a few hours after a strenuous workout, or at the end of a long day spent in heels. Dehydration or low levels of certain minerals, such as potassium, may also be to blame.
What to do: A Charley horse every now and then isn't cause for concern, Dr. Raj says. "Try eating more foods with potassium, like avocados and bananas," she advises. Be sure you're hydrating adequately before workouts, she adds, and fully warm up and cool down after each exercise session.
Rarely, the spasms can be due to nerve injury--stemming from a herniated disc, for example. If they happen frequently, have your doctor test for nutrient deficiencies and do a full neurological exam.
5. Tickly throat
What causes it: An itchy throat can be due to irritation from a cold, the flu, seasonal allergies, postnasal drip, air pollution--even yelling.
What to do: Most of the time, your throat will get better with home remedies like drinking plenty of liquids, gargling with warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water), sucking on lozenges, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen. Putting a humidifier in your bedroom can also help.
If your itchy throat is allergy-related, antihistamines may be useful for easing the itch and treating other symptoms. But unless you've got strep throat, which can only be determined with a strep test, you won't benefit from antibiotics.
>>To learn about the other body annoyances, read the full article at CBS News Healthwatch - http://cbsn.ws/Q1EmTR
The Gatti Team
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.