From thinning hair to bad breath: Remedies for 5 common health problems

But if you don't get relief, the symptoms might be signs of more significant medical concern.

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By Madelyn Fernstrom

When you're sick, you go to your doctor. But what about those annoying ailments that may be on your mind, but don’t seem serious enough for medical care? They can go on for months or years, but it’s often hard to know where to start to solve the problem.

Here are some easy remedies that may help resolve five common health issues: thinning hair, bloating, dry skin, bad breath, bloating, and excessive sweating. Note: If these fixes don't bring relief, the symptoms might be signs of more significant medical concern and it may be time to see the doctor.

PROBLEM: THINNING HAIR

Eat more protein.

One of the most common reasons for thin hair is not eating enough protein. Protein sources should be varied and should include both animal and plant sources for the widest range of amino acids.

To figure out the approximate number of grams of protein you need each day, take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half. If you weigh 140 pounds, it’s about 70 grams of protein daily; for someone at 160 pounds, it’s about 80 grams.

While this might sound like a lot, including protein at each meal can help.

Take a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.

A varied diet is the best way to get your vitamins and minerals to support optimal health. A range of vitamins and minerals support hair health, including biotin, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, iron, zinc and omega-3-fatty acids. Studies show that deficiencies in some or all of these can contribute to thinning hair. However, it's unclear whether adding more, beyond adequate intake can boost hair health.

Manage your stress.

Chronic stress, a reflection of chronic inflammation in the body, can contribute to thinning hair. Whether it’s deep breathing, a daily walk, yoga, or a relaxation app, reducing your stress and changing your response to it might help.

Try a scalp massage.

A small, preliminary study done in Japan shows that regular scalp massage might help thicken existing hair on your head, although it doesn't impact added growth, or make it grow faster. While the mechanism of action is unknown, it may be related to increased blood flow in the scalp. Bonus: A scalp massage might also help with stress reduction.

Use gentle tools.

In addition to shampooing less often, review your hair tools, like brushes, dryers, and curlers. And shampooing less often can help, especially with the help of dry shampoos.

IF THESE DON’T HELP: It’s a good idea to see your doctor. Start with your primary care doctor, as multiple endocrine and hormonal reasons might contribute. You might also be referred to a dermatologist.

PROBLEM: BAD BREATH

Drink more fluids.

A dry mouth, either from thirst or as a side effect of some medications, can cause bad breath. Stick with water and other unsweetened drinks.

Brush and floss your teeth often.

Carry a toothbrush and toothpaste, and brush after eating. Flossing is key, whether with strands of floss, or picks. Flossing removes debris your toothbrush misses.

Try a tongue scraper.

While you can use your tooth brush to brush your tongue, a simple tongue scraper is fast and easy. A lot of debris can be trapped on your tongue, and swiping it off can help.

Avoid “allium” in foods such as onions and garlic.

While part of a healthy diet, foods with allium have a component that recycles in saliva and lingers for hours. The only way to avoid this is to avoid onion and garlic heavy foods.

IF THESE DON’T HELP: Pay a visit to your dentist to start, who might refer you to a specialist to determine if it’s a gum issue, or back to your primary care doctor.

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PROBLEM: BLOATING

Skip carbonated beverages.

Any fizzy or bubbly drinks can promote bloating, with those bubbles being temporarily trapped in your digestive tract.

Slow down your eating.

When you eat fast, you’re gulping more air into your mouth and digestive tract.

Avoid gum chewing and sipping through a straw.

Both of these promote more unwanted air that can promote bloating.

Limit vegetables in the cabbage family.

Cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower are full of nutrients, but they're also gas boosters.

Limit your legumes.

The bean family provides protein and fiber, but can promote bloating in some people. Watch out for beans and legumes and keep your intake modest.

Cut down on processed foods.

Nearly three quarters of the daily salt intake in the American diet comes from processed foods. And extra salt can contribute to bloating. Limit your intake of canned and boxed foods, and processed combination meals. And read the label for the amount of sodium per serving.

Try a lactose-free and/or gluten-free trial.

A food intolerance for both wheat and dairy is not uncommon so an elimination diet of one or both of these foods might help with bloating. Try one at a time, to better determine which, if either, is the culprit.

Skip low-calorie foods with sugar alcohols.

If you choose low-calorie sweetened foods and drinks, look for those without sugar alcohols, which promote bloating. These are all sugars that end in “ol”, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol.

Try over-the-counter products for support.

Sometimes your body needs just a little bit of help to digest the food culprits. Try Beano to break down certain carbohydrates in beans and legumes. Or, Gas-X (simethicone) to break up gas bubbles that form. And when it comes to dairy, Lactaid products or pills can often help make a modest intake of dairy products workable.

IF THESE DON’T HELP: Start with your primary care doctor and bring your diet and lifestyle history with you. You might also be referred to a gastroenterologist.

PROBLEM: DRY SKIN

Stay hydrated.

Most people don’t drink enough fluids. While thirst is the best signal to drink, it’s often ignored. Make it a point to keep up your fluid intake all day long to help hydrate your skin from within.

Add heart healthy fats to your diet.

Cutting back too much on dietary fat can impact your skin. Stick with heart healthy fats like the omega 3s found in salmon and other fatty fish, and in plant-proteins like walnuts. If you’re not a fish or nut eater, try a high quality oral supplement.

Take shorter and cooler showers.

Try to avoid a daily shower, especially in cold dry weather. And apply lotion over your face and body right after a shower, when skin is still moist and get an extra boost.

Get a humidifier.

If your living or working space is extremely dry, especially in winter, try a humidifier to boost the moisture in the air around you.

IF THESE DON’T HELP: Pay a visit to your primary doctor. You might also be referred to a dermatologist. Early intervention is key, especially when your symptoms are milder, before your skin gets even more irritated.

PROBLEM: EXCESS SWEATING

Skip spicy foods.

Certain components in hot peppers — like capsaicin — trigger nerves to increase body temperature. Your body’s response is to sweat, so you cool down.

Allow your foods to cool before eating.

Foods consumed piping hot out of the oven or stove can prompt sweating. Wait a few minutes until moderately warm, but not steaming.

Address your stress.

Acute and chronic stress can promote sweating, so think about a technique to relax that best fits your personality. Any kind of mind-body connection can help, from an app to deep breathing, or a walk outdoors.

Choose breathable fabrics and dress in layers.

Select materials like cotton and silk that “breathe”; wool is a good choice, if it doesn’t bother you.

And aim for layers to add and remove as the temperature changes during the day and evening.

Try an Antiperspirant.

While a deodorant can mask an odor, an antiperspirant can help block the secretion. Try over the counter products like Certain Dri or Secret Clinical.

IF THESE DON’T HELP: Check with your doctor who might include prescription-products to better manage your sweating. An effective and often insurance-covered treatment for medically documented excessive sweating is botox injections in the problem site.