Just Curious: What Happens When...

All your burning questions, answered.

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…You hover above a toilet seat to pee

Squatting over the pot when you're, say, skeeved out by a public restroom is probably not going to hurt you, says Melissa Goist, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. Just make sure you don't feel as if you're straining to pee when you're in that half-standing position. "You need to relax your pelvic floor muscles in order to urinate," says Goist. "Straining may weaken those muscles, which can lead to incontinence." So if you feel any discomfort or shaky muscles when you're mid-hover, wipe down the seat and sit. Otherwise, you're good to go…literally.

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…You snooze on a crappy pillow

It may not support your neck well, causing sleep-disrupting aches, says Rafael Pelayo, MD, a faculty member at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center. Another issue is allergies: Pillows collect dust mites — and their poop — so when you cozy up to an oldie, you may wake up stuffy and sneezy. If yours is too squishy to hold its shape (a potential sign of mite waste buildup) or has stains (which may indicate mold), get a new one. Invest in allergenproof covers to keep dust out, and wash pillows and covers regularly.

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…You "pinch" a nerve

When your bones, cartilage, or muscles put pressure on a nerve, pain can radiate down your limbs. Luckily, the feeling often goes away on its own, says Robert Irwin, MD, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Miami. Pop an OTC pain reliever; if discomfort lingers, see a doc, who may suggest meds or physical therapy.

…You swallow a pill without any water

Downing pills dry can cause heartburn or worse, says James Owen, vice president of practice and scientific affairs at the American Pharmacists Association. Without water, pills release chemicals that can damage your esophagus; plus, H2O helps your body better absorb meds. So take a swig or two to help pills go down smoothly.

…You reuse a tissue

If you're alone, it's OK to recycle, since you probably won't reinfect yourself, says Wendy Bennett, MD, an internal medicine doctor at Johns Hopkins Medicine. But use fresh ones around others, since you don't want to touch infected mucus and spread the virus. And practice sneez-iquette: If a tissue isn't handy, achoo into your sleeve; wash your hands often; and stay home if you've got a bad cold brewing.


This story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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