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From stinky feet to bad breath: 5 embarrassing medical symptoms explained

by Samuel Sarmiento, M.D. / / Source: TODAY

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We've all had some health issues we'd rather not talk about. Here is everything you wanted to know about five common symptoms, but were afraid to ask:

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1. Why do my feet stink so much?

The main cause of bad foot odor is sweat. Warm, sweaty feet are the perfect growth medium for bacteria, which will create a foul smell as sweat decomposes. Your shoes can worsen the problem, especially if you wear the same pair of shoes every day.

Just like your feet, your shoes will harbor bacteria if they are warm and damp. The bacteria continue to breed once you've taken your shoes off, especially if you put them in a dark cupboard.

You're also more likely to have more foot perspiration than normal if you're moving all day, or if you're under stress, which makes you sweat more than usual. Fungal infections, such as athlete's foot, can also lead to stinky feet.

What to do:

Put antiperspirant on your feet.

Don't wear the same shoes all the time.

Soak your feet in Epsom salts.

If you suspect there's a fungal infection (with athlete's foot, for example, your feet will also be itchy), there are several over-the-counter medications.

Related: How to wear flip-flops without ruining your feet

2. I get constipated when I travel. Any way to prevent that?

There are several reasons why you might get constipated while traveling:

It throws you off your routines. Just like other bodily functions, defecating follows a biological rhythm.

Traveling across time zones, because it disrupts the natural body cycles.

Dehydration, because you're drinking more alcohol than usual or simply not drinking enough water.

Changes in diet, whether it's trying new foods or just getting less fiber.

"Bathroom anxiety", or being uncomfortable using hotel bathrooms or public restrooms.

Related: Swelling, skin breakouts and more: 4 common travel symptoms explained

What to do:

Don't ignore the urge to go. Your body is trying to regulate its clock.

Have snacks with fiber or roughage like oatmeal or fresh produce.

Make sure you stay hydrated.

Pack a stool softener in your travel kit.

3. Do I need to buy new makeup after I get a cold sore?

Not necessarily but here's what's important: Make sure it hasn't become contaminated, i.e., if you haven't "double dipped" in the container with the same brush or sponge that touched the cold sore.

Buy disposable sponges and brushes and thrown them out after each use. But you may want to throw out your lipstick.

4. I've started to sweat through my blouses. Should I be worried?

Not unless it represents a change from the usual.

Conditions that may make you sweat more include "hot flashes" and studies show taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) right around the time of menopause for hot flashes can help.

If you have fever, or experiencing chest pain or nausea, seek medical care.

Related: 11 surprising causes of anxiety

5. Why does my breath smell despite constant brushing?

There are several possible reasons for bad breath when you otherwise have good dental hygiene:

Infections: upper respiratory (a cold or sinus infection), mouth (thrush), tonsils.

Tooth decay, like untreated cavities.

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems, like reflux, which brings up acid from the stomach.

Using medications that cause a dry mouth, like certain drugs used to treat mood disorders, allergies and hypertension.

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