You’re sitting in class and you smell something awful coming from the back of the room. Who could it be? The guy in the hat and sweatshirt who looks like he just rolled out of bed? The girl who looks like she spent all morning getting ready and would never own up to it? Or is it your own stench that is making your classmates gag as they sit through another thrilling day of Ancient European History? Surely, it couldn’t be you. Could it?
It might be body odor; it might be gas. Whatever the random ailment is, it’s probably something no one likes to talk about publicly.
But all of us have quietly had to deal with it on the giving and receiving end: Gas, bad breath, body odor and other embarrassing ailments have been a part of everyone’s lives at one point or another. So, before you start losing friends, here’s how to avoid these and other bodily malfunctions, and what to do about these ailments if preventive medicine fails you.
Halitosis (Bad Breath)
This is a terrible affliction that can affect your social, school, or work life without anyone ever mentioning the problem. It can lead to late night failure with that special someone you’ve been eyeing and it can turn job prospects into bad memories.
According to doctors at American Breath Specialists, 85-90% of bad breath comes from within your mouth and can be treated with a healthy dose of breath mints and some basic dental hygiene (brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing). Experts also suggest keeping your stomach acid calm and your nasal passages clear to avoid scaring away your neighbors.
So what causes bad breath? In most cases, it’s an easy question to answer: Whatever you put in your mouth comes back out. Smoking, coffee, garlic, onion, tuna and excessive drinking (be careful using mouthwash that contains alcohol, it can actually cause bad breath) are the leaders among a wide array of causes. On the other hand, not eating enough can cause noxious odors to make their way from your stomach into your mouth.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing those who have or know someone who has bad breath is bringing the problem to the smelly one’s attention. Danielle, a former University of Vermont student, heaps praise on anonymous email as a solution. “Politely send an anonymous letter to your friend, pointing out the problem and forcing Mr. or Mrs. Bad Breath into action.” If that is too extreme for your liking, an honest conversation may be the only option. As painful as it can be, everyone wins in the end. Keep in mind, though, that if you have chronic bad breath and no mint or water or mouthwash works, be sure to see a doctor.
Medically speaking, gas or flatulence is just air in the intestine that is passed through the rectum. Most of us, however, know this anal release is a way to clear the room quicker than playing your “Best of New Kids on the Block” album. While there are those who regard farting as a sport (one Indiana student recalls a friend who recorded his favorite fart sounds on tape and played them to his girlfriend with pride), for the average person it serves simply as an uncomfortable, smelly fact of life.
And according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, most people produce 1-3 pints of gas a day and pass gas 14 times a day (orally and rectally).
The best medicine appears to be preemptive in nature, as what you eat and how you eat it control whether you enjoy your post meal activity or you wind up feeling bloated. Experts urge you to be wary of unhealthy foods and excessive alcohol (the leading cause of the Sunday morning farts). In addition, eating too quickly and stressful conversation can lead to trouble for everyone involved. Be certain to make mealtime relaxing by avoiding emotional issues and chew your food completely. A word to the wise: Eating small portions of healthy foods throughout the day can help limit the gas you pass.
While those experiencing constant gas and stomach pains should see a medical professional, the rest of are subject to dealing with fear of public flatulence. As Jen, a Boston nursing student, says, “We all do it. I let them rip too, I just wait until no one is looking.”
Contrary to popular belief, sweat by itself does not have any odor. Only when reacting to the bacteria on your skin does a post-workout glistening turn into a smelly mess. The smell is especially noticeable in concentrated areas of sweat glands such as armpits, feet, and the groin area, where the bacteria are trapped by clothing and footwear.
For those of you eating lots of late night greasy foods, be careful. Items that are hard for your system to break down can send their odor out through your pores.
Barring a chronic, non-sweaty smell (which should be referred to a doctor) the best treatment for bad B.O. is some quality time in the shower scrubbing your body clean. In addition, make sure to keep your sensitive areas dry in order to prevent any unnecessary sweat production.
They don’t smell bad, but uncontrollable hiccups can annoy those around you and be somewhat embarrassing if you just can’t stop. Hiccups are caused by a disruption in the diaphragm (base of lungs) that pushes air back up into your esophagus in a jerky manner, interfering with your breathing pattern. Things that can lead to this frustrating ailment include spicy food, eating quickly, drinking alcohol, chewing gum, swallowing air, and drinking carbonated beverages.
According to WebMD, there is no sure way to stop hiccups, but there are several common techniques that may be effective:
* Hold your breath
* Breath repeatedly into a PAPER bag
* Drink a glass of cold water
* Eat a teaspoon of sugar
If the hiccups persist for a long time, see a doctor.
Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch)
This is not a pleasant topic at all: Constant itching in the groin area can drive you crazy while leaving others with the impression that you can’t stop touching yourself in public.
Jock itch is caused by a fungus known as trichophyton rubrum growing in your groin area. This fungus thrives in warm, moist areas and can be avoided with a dose of baby powder in the morning and loose clothing.
Most anti-fungal sprays will cure your problem. Just be sure to keep your groin dry while the healing process occurs.
Candidal Vaginitis (Yeast Infections)
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which often lives in the vaginal area in normal amounts. This growth can be caused by anything that weakens the immune system, including stress, a poor diet, and drug use. Hot weather, sitting around in wet bathing suits, deodorant and scented feminine products, the end of the menstrual cycle and even sex can increase the chances of contracting a yeast infection. If you are seeing the symptoms for the first time (itchiness; a white, curd-like odorless discharge; soreness; a rash on your vaginal lips; or a burning sensation) you should consult a medical professional.
Experts at Planned Parenthood suggest an over the counter cream containing miconazole or clotrimazole to cure the problem. If this does not work, contact a doctor ASAP.
The AskStudent RunDown
When you need a quick fix to a bodily problem, try one of these fast solutions. We really hope they work for you.
To help the smell try drinking a cup of water with a drop of peppermint, cinnamon or ginger extract in it. To deal with the discomfort, most over-the-counter antacids can make your system calm down. Bad Breath
Swing by a convenient store and pick up some super strong breath mints. You’ll have people trying to get closer instead of running away.Jock Itch
Steve, a recent Union College grad, claims Gold Bond medicated powder is the medical world’s answer to duct tape “Gold Bond solves all of your problems, end of story,” he says.Body Odor
If you’re nowhere near a shower and you’re in a bind, try masking odor with scented deodorant, cologne, after-shave or perfume. Don’t use too much, though, or your new scent will be just as offensive as B.O.Menstrual Cramps
One woman, who has requested anonymity, states, “There is no quicker way to relax your aching muscles than by masturbating.”
Change your socks regularly and wear flip-flops in the shower and you shouldn’t have a problem. If you do, the appropriate use of anti-fungal sprays should fix your feet.
Alex Smith showers AND flosses regularly. He still farts sometimes, though.