5 Ways to Stay Calm When You’re Stressed

Taking deep breaths, counting to 10, going for a walk around the block—studies have shown that these are all sound ways to manage stress. Another thing they have in common? Unless you’re doing them every day, they’re all reactive techniques, ones that you do after anxiety bubbles up to the surface.

In the video above, we present you with five proactive ways to inject a sense of calm into your (most likely) very hectic life, like carving out space away from screens to blocking out disrupting nighttime sounds with a pair of BOSE noise-masking sleepbuds.

 

Everyone Is Angry, and That’s Not Exactly a Bad Thing

Feeling mad? Good! Here’s how to use that anger more positively.

why it's ok to be angry

When it comes to talking about anger, the conversation usually turns to how and why we should free ourselves of the emotion. As the thinking usually goes, anger is bad for our health and fosters negativity.

But the emotion has potential to do more than just turn you into a bright red rage monster. Sometimes it’s okay—and even healthy—to be angry, as Charles Duhigg points out in The Atlantic.

Duhigg spent a year researching the most common roots of anger in Americans, especially in light of today’s hyper-charged political climate. Surprisingly, Duhigg found that anger isn’t always as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

Anger gets a bad rep because the emotion is often linked with violence—but the two aren’t necessarily related. In a 2003 American Psychological Association article, Howard Kassinove, PhD and co-author of Anger Management: The Complete Treatment Guidebook for Practice, explained that anger leads to aggression roughly 10 percent of the time. He further notes that lots of aggressive acts are committed without anger.

Charles Duhigg

?@cduhigg

1/ Why are so many people so angry? And what can we do about it? I spent much of the last year reporting a story for @theatlantic on who is to blame for all of the fury coursing through our politics and our personal lives. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/charles-duhigg-american-anger/576424/ 

The Real Roots of American Rage

The untold story of how anger became the dominant emotion in our politics and personal lives—and what we can do about it.

theatlantic.com

Charles Duhigg

?@cduhigg

2/ The first surprise: I went into this project thinking of anger as a negative emotion. But when I looked at the social science, I learned that anger can be a powerful force for good.

See Charles Duhigg’s other Tweets

Instead, the frequently maligned emotion can actually serve you well. Here’s how.

Anger Helps You Speak Clearly

Sure, you may want to say a few choice words to that cubicle mate who listens to music without headphones, but chances are you won’t actually go through with the scolding. People generally use a filter when communicating their feelings so they don’t appear brash or insensitive.

But getting angry allows you to remove that filter and say what you really feel, says Ken Yeager, PhD, LISW and Clinical Director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“Too often people are busy trying to say it in a way that’s polite, but meaning gets lost in the process,” he tells MensHealth.com. “When a person is angry, they’re in the midst of flight or fight. They’re going to say exactly what they need, exactly what they think to get their point across.”

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Anger Helps You Negotiate

Shockingly, angry conversations don’t usually result in blowout screaming matches. Duhigg’s article cites the findings of Massachusetts at Amherst Psychology Professor James Averill, who studied anger and response in the late 1970s. Averill surveyed people about how often they got angry and were asked to describe a particularly upsetting experience.

Averill discovered that angry people were able to resolve their problems favorably. Case in point: an angry teen had his curfew changed after shouting at his parents.

“In the vast majority of cases, expressing anger resulted in all parties becoming more willing to listen, more inclined to speak honestly, more accommodating of each other’s complaints,” Duhigg writes.

However, the intensity of your anger is important for making this work. Earlier this year, researchers at Rice University found that people who were moderately angry negotiate their needs better than people who were either very angry or had little anger.

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Researchers believe this is because moderately angry people are viewed as tough, while people who express even more extreme emotions are viewed as inappropriate.

Anger Motivates Us

Anger can be the kick in the butt people need to start a new project or make a change because it fuels passion, says Yeager.

Duhigg sees this phenomena most in American politics, as he believes successful politicians win because they tap into people’s anger and inspire them to vote. This is why Averill never discounted the strength of current President Trump’s unlikely candidacy, according to Duhigg’s reporting.

There’s no denying that the result of the 2016 Presidential election caused anger. Shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, angry Americans took to the streets and marched in protest of the President’s policies. Around the world, more than five million people marched in protest and to advocate for women’s rights in January 2017.

Women's march in New York
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But not all fear-induced change has to be big. Anger can spark creativity at work and allow us to develop new initiatives or campaigns, says Yeager.

“If you let go of your anger, you understand that there’s a change possible,” he says. “A lot of people stay stuck in ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Nothing creative comes out of that.”

Anger is Cathartic

Think about the last time you skipped the B.S. and told someone what you really thought. It felt pretty good, right?

Averill found that people were happier, more optimistic, and relieved after yelling during an argument. Although we associate aggression with anger, the two aren’t as intermingled as we think. In fact, our brains experience anger in a positive way, Dacher Keltner, the director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab, tells The Atlantic.

“When we look at the brains of people who are expressing anger, they look very similar to people who are experiencing happiness,” Keltner said. “When we become angry, we feel like we’re taking control, like we’re getting power over something.”

Couple arguing in living room
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But before you unleash a year’s worth of annoyance onto your friends and family, just remember that anger is like most things: best in moderation.

“A little anger is a good thing, and a lot of anger is not a good thing,” says Yeager.

You’ll know you’ve tiptoed the line when being angry is all you can think about. Personal attacks, insults, and demeaning comments are also destructive. “That’s when you fall into potential for violence,” says Yeager.

Outside of that, Yeager says it’s okay to get a little heated. “Arguments are healthy,” he admits.

The next time you lose your cool, just remember: it’s not all that bad. Harness those feelings to get something done, and you’ll be the better for it.

8 Ways to Cure Your Headache Without Any Medication

Find that sweet relief.

Black guy stressing and headache

Throbbing head, or feel like your skull is in a vise? You’re certainly not alone.

According to the World Health Organization, about half the general population has headaches during some point in any given year, and more than 90 percent report a headache at some point in their lifetimes.

That doesn’t mean you have to put up with them, though.

The first choice of pain relief tends to be over-the-counter choices like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which are easy to obtain and can knock out some headaches quickly, says Maria Vila, D.O., a physician at Atlantic Health System’s Chambers Center for Well Being. That’s because they block an enzyme in the body connected to the production of prostaglandins—molecules involved in pain and inflammatory responses.

But you don’t want to pop them like candy. Taking NSAIDs like Advil too frequently can lead to stomach issues, like stomach upset or even gastrointestinal bleeding. Plus, OTC headache meds can lose their effectiveness over time, leading to a “rebound headache” that prompts you to take more and more of the meds to get the same relief. That can create a vicious cycle.

So you might want to try a more natural route to ease your head pain instead. Try these natural headache remedies instead.

Get rid of a headache by drinking water

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Dehydration is a very common cause for headaches, Dr. Vila says.

When you don’t have enough fluids in your body, your blood volume decreases overall. Not only does that lower the amount of oxygen-rich blood flowing into your brain, but it can also cause the brain to contract a bit temporarily.

That tightness, as well as the decreased oxygen, can cause pain. So if you keep your hydration level up to par, that could ward off the pain-causing lack of blood flow.

Get rid of a headache by going herbal

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One herb that has been connected to headache relief is feverfew, Dr. Vila says, and it’s considered a safe, natural alternative to OTC meds.

The Migraine Trust, a nonprofit in the U.K., notes that many people take feverfew if they have recurring migraines, and some have found that it can help prevent headaches from occurring. In fact, a 2005 study found that migraine sufferers who took feverfew cut their number of headaches per month from nearly five to just under two.

But, like any herbal remedy, it’s not advisable to combine treatments—for example, don’t pop a few ibuprofen and feverfew tablets at the same time. That’s because both can act as blood thinners, so it can increase your risk of bleeding.

Get rid of a headache by switching up your food

Directly Above Shot Of Chocolate Bars On Table
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Food sensitivities can trigger headaches—especially migraines, says Dr. Vila. With allergies or intolerances, you could create an inflammatory response as your immune system works to handle the “invader.” That can cause some inflammation in the brain as well, leading to a headache.

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The most common foods that are associated with migraines, according to Dr. Vila, are red wine, chocolate, dark beer, deli meat, and aged cheeses. (Basically, everything you love.)

Removing these from your diet for a few weeks and then re-introducing them one by one might give you some insight about whether they’re a factor. For instance, if the headaches persist even after eliminating the food for a few weeks, then you know it’s not the culprit and you can keep it in your diet.

Get rid of a headache by sleeping better

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Pain researchers from Missouri State University found that rats deprived of deep sleep showed changes in key proteins that suppress chronic pain.

Although the study was done on animals, the findings fall in line with other research that’s shown a connection between poor sleep and headaches in people, too, says Dr. Vila.

That’s not surprising, considering your brain does a ton of work while you’re conked out, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sleep is essential for numerous brain functions, including removal of toxins and maintenance of communication pathways and nerve cells. Poor sleep can not only cause headaches, but also increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity, the NIH notes. So make sure you’re getting the recommended seven to nine hours per night.

Get rid of a headache by adopting the 20-20-20 rule

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You check your phone, turn back to your laptop, check your phone again, all the while with your tablet right within reach. Digital eye strain, a.k.a. computer vision syndrome(CVS), is a common cause of headaches — and over half of Americans suffer from it, nearly a third of them with headaches, according to a report from The Vision Council.

What’s the headache-device link? In short, we’re demanding way more from our eyes when using tech. Words on your iPad, for example, have far less contrast and definition than words on a printed page, making them harder to read. Add to that glare and reflections and the awkward angle between you and your laptop and you’ve got a crappy combo for dry eyes, eye strain, neck pain, and headaches, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).

You’re an all-day laptop user, you say? To give your eyes a rest and alleviate the strain, every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away (about the length of a car and a half). Then, every two hours, take 15 minutes to rest your eyes, the AOA recommends.

Get rid of a headache by taking time to chill

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Drowning in stress? You could be priming yourself for a headache. Stress is a huge trigger for tension headaches, the most common kind headaches, which are characterized by dull pain and tightness, a study in Neurology finds. You can’t make traffic stand still or control your micro-manage-y boss, but you can commit 10 minutes of your day to chilling out. Quiet time, even if it’s just a walk down the street or playtime with your pup, can help stave off stress, and in turn, those nagging cymbals banging in your head.

Get rid of your headache with acupuncture

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Can strategically-placed tiny needles actually kill a throbbing headache? They might: The 2,000-year-old practice shows promise when it comes to reducing the frequency of migraines, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. In the study, people who received acupuncture had migraines less often and with less intensity than those who received “fake” acupuncture or no treatment.

Want to try it out? Try at least six treatment sessions to get the most bang for your buck, the American Migraine Association suggests.

Get rid of your headache by sweating your butt off

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While jarring your head around probably sounds like a terrible idea when you’re in pain (and exercise itself can sometimes cause headaches), exercise quiets on a handful of key headache triggers: It reduces stress, wears you out so you can get some quality sleep at night, and gets your endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers, pumping, says the American Migraine Foundation.

One study of people suffering from tension headaches, neck pain, and migraines found that 45 minutes of exercise three times a week significantly reduced all symptoms. People had migraines less often, and when they did have them, they were less painful and didn’t last as long. Go ahead, dust off the running sneaks.

When to see a doctor about your headaches

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If natural remedies and OTC pain relievers aren’t doing the trick, it may be time to make an appointment, says Dr. Vila.

“If you’ve never gotten headaches before and now they’re frequent, I would get that checked out,” she says.

Ditto for changes to your usual headache type. For example, you may have always had those tight, tension headaches that come and go, but now they’re not going away. Or you’re having other symptoms, like “floaters” in your eyes, which is often a sign of a migraine.

If you have a stiff neck or fever as well as a headache, that could be a sign of infection, Dr. Vila notes, including both run-of-the-mill types and something more serious, like meningitis.

Worst case scenario? Your headache may actually be signaling a mini-stroke, if it’s accompanied by confusion, fuzzy vision, weakness, or a bit of memory loss.

But in general, headaches are very common, and most likely, you’re just dealing with something minor like stress, poor sleep, dehydration, or food sensitivities. Whatever you’re grappling with, trying to get to the root of the issue—the why of your headache—can help prevent them from creeping back in.

Try These Stretches to Relieve Upper Back Pain

Give your back the attention it deserves.

Man Lying on a Foam Roller While Doing an Exercise

Let’s face it: Our bodies’ design and the way we use them aren’t always compatible.

Our constant computer and phone use means that your head and eyes tend to be tilted downwards more than you want to admit, and definitely more than you probably realize. This forward, downward head position (aka “tech neck“) can take a serious toll on your body, leading to neck stiffness, upper and lower back pain, and even headaches.

Muscles of the upper back and neck can become tight and weak with sustained positions, limiting their strength potential and extensibility, and reinforcing bad postural habits. All that device usage leads to forward, rounded shoulders and the head resting far out in front of the shoulders instead of being stacked vertically on top of the torso. These positions, though comfortable in the short term, can actually change the alignment and health of your spine and often lead to aches and pains that become larger, more debilitating problems later on.

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The best way to combat a stiff upper back is to make time for the right stretching and strengthening routine. If you’re experiencing a aches or pains in the upper back, neck or shoulders, your posture is probably to blame.

Try incorporating these stretches to unwind and open up your chest, back, and shoulders before a small ache or pain becomes a bigger problem. For some of these stretches, you’ll need a foam roller. If you don’t have one, we like this one from TriggerPoint, or any of these options.

Cat-cow Stretch

The cat-cow stretch is actually two stretches in one, and a great way to self-mobilize your thoracic spine (the upper part of your back). By moving through these two poses, you can gently mobilize each vertebra so that the small bones move the way they are supposed to for daily activities and do not become too rigid and stiff.

To perform: Begin in quadruped (hands and knees) with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Inhale as you move your sit bones up towards the ceiling, arching the back and pressing the chest towards the floor as you lift the head up. Relaxing the shoulder blades behind you. From there, inhale as you move from this “cow” position to an angry “cat” position, rounding out your back and pushing shoulder blades away from you as your spine forms a “C” curve in the opposite direction. Go through this cycle 10 times.

Side-lying Thoracic Rotation

One of the upper back movements required for healthy mobility is rotation. With so much of life happening in an anterior-posterior or sagittal plane, the ability to twist and rotate can become limited. This stretch is a great way to improve rotation in your spine.

Begin by lying on your left side with knees bent and arms straight out in front of you, palms touching. Gently lift your right hand straight up off of the left hand, opening up the arm like it’s a book or door while following the top hand with your head and eyes until your right hand is on the other side of your body, palm up, with your head and eyes turned towards the right. Hold this stretch for a few breaths before returning to the starting position with palms facing each other. Repeat up to 10 times on each side.

Child’s Pose with Rotation

Child’s pose stretches multiple muscles in the back, while also targeting the hips and even ankles.

To perform, begin on your hands and knees. Spread your knees apart while keeping your toes touching, then gently lower your hips forward towards the ground with arms outstretched in front of you. Keep your arms extended forward with palms down on the floor, lengthening the lower back. Hold this pose for several breaths.

For an added stretch, bring both hands to one side in front of you, lengthening the lats and muscles of the opposite side of your body. Repeat by reaching to the other side after a good stretch is felt. Hold each of these poses up to 30 seconds. Note: If you have pain in your knees or hips, try performing this pose while seated on a pillow or folded blanket, or try using a foam roller under your palms to make the stretch more comfortable.

Thoracic Extension Over Foam Roller/Chair

Reverse the curve of your upper back by moving your body in the opposite direction. Find a foam roller or use the back of a chair to perform this instantly relieving stretch. If using a foam roller, place the foam roller perpendicular to your torso. Sit in front of the foam roller, and gently hammock the head with your hands, interlocking the fingers and supporting the weight of your head without pulling it.

Lean backwards so that your upper back is reaching backwards over the foam roller. Gently allow your shoulders to reach towards the floor while the foam roller supports your upper back. Carefully lift the hips to roll up and down the muscles of the upper back or move the foam roller up and inch after each stretch, leaning backwards over the roller until a gentle stretch is felt. Repeat several times, without forcing your body into discomfort. This stretch can be very intense, so start with small movement and don’t spend more than a couple minutes in this position.

Pec Stretches on Foam Roller

Tight pecs can contribute to rounded shoulders and a tight upper back.

Stretch the muscles by lying on a foam roller with arms outstretched like the letter T or W. Hold for about 30 seconds in each position.

Doorway Stretch

If you can’t find a foam roller, try using the walls of a standard doorway to stretch out the pecs.

Bring each forearm up against one side of the doorway. Gently lean forward through the doorway keeping the arms on one side to stretch out the chest. Hold for 30 seconds.

Sphinx Pose

Open up the chest and back by lying on the floor and propping yourself up on your forearms.

As you inhale, gently press your forearms into the floor and lift the head and chest up. Draw your shoulders blades down and back and lengthen your tailbone. Hold for 30 seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Body Odors You Should Never Ignore

Because these smells can signal more than a skipped shower

body odors signal health problems

Whether you’ve just completed a grueling workout or chowed down on an onion-packed burger, chances are, at one time or another, you’ve been that guy who stunk up the room. In most cases, a simple shower, swipe of deodorant, or line of minty-fresh toothpaste could remedy the situation. But in other cases, it’s not so simple.

That’s because your body odor can actually speak volumes about your health. In fact, some diseases can actually produce a unique, distinguished odor, according to a recent Swedish study.

So which funky fumes should you take note of? Here are 5 common body odors that might signal a serious problem—and what you should do if the stench arises.

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BODY ODOR: FRUITY BREATH IS A SYMPTOM OF DIABETES

bad breathe diabetes

Credit a complication of diabetes called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when your body runs low on insulin and your blood sugar spikes, says Robert Gabbay, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. People with type 1 diabetes generally experience it more than those with type 2 diabetes do.

Here’s what’s happening: Your body can’t create the energy it needs to function properly, so it begins to break down fatty acids for fuel. This creates a build up of acidic chemicals called ketones in your blood. One of the main acids—acetone (the same component found in nail polish remover)—can leave a fruity smell on your breath, Dr. Gabbay says. You might not notice it until someone else mentions it, but doctors can smell it on you as soon as you walk into a room.

The effects of DKA can be serious—even deadly. It can make you vomit and urinate frequently, causing your body to lose fluids at a dangerous rate, he says.

DKA generally occurs with other symptoms of diabetes, like fatigue, blurred vision, and unexplained weight loss, but in many cases, people don’t put them all together, which delays diagnosis and treatment. So if you notice the fruity odor on your breath along with any of those symptoms—especially if they are accompanied by fatigue, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, or abdominal pain, head to the emergency room as soon as possible, the American Diabetes Association recommends.

After your doctor tests your blood for ketones, he or she will work on replacing lost fluids and getting your sugar levels back to normal with insulin treatment.

BODY ODOR: STINKY FEET IS A SYMPTOM OF ATHLETE’S FOOT

stinky feet

Can’t seem to fight funky sneakers? A fungal infection may be to blame. If you notice dry, scaly skin around your toes, redness, and blisters, you may have athlete’s foot, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Your feet might also emit a foul odor, caused by a combination of bacteria and fungus eroding into your skin and toe webs, says Cameron Rokhsar, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Plus, if you ignore athlete’s foot, the skin in between your toe webs becomes excessively soft and moist, making it an entry point for bacteria, he says. You can develop more complicated conditions like cellulitis, a bacterial infection of your skin’s soft tissue.

So if you’re experiencing symptoms, try an over-the-counter antifungal spray like Lotrimin or Tinactin. If the problem continues to persist after two weeks, your doctor can take a closer look and prescribe a more targeted treatment, suggests the APMA.

Since athlete’s foot is just one of the nasty skin conditions you can pick up at the gym, protect yourself from picking it up again by wearing shoes in the locker room. Because fungi tend to thrive in moist environments, try using a talcum to keep your feet dry if they tend to get sweaty.

BODY ODOR: SMELLY POOP IS A SYMPTOM OF LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

smelly poop lactose intolerant

When your small intestine doesn’t produce enough of an enzyme called lactase, it can’t digest lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, says Ryan Ungaro, M.D., assistant professor of gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

So your small intestine directs lactose directly to your colon—instead of your bloodstream—where your gut bacteria ferment it. This can cause loose, foul-smelling stool, bloating, and smelly gas, Dr. Ungaro says.

Lactose intolerance is fairly common: In fact, an estimated 65 percent of people have trouble digesting dairy, according to the National Institutes of Health. But the reaction—including painful stomach cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, as well as smelly farts and poop— can vary from person to person, says Men’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S.

For most people, though, it only takes 12 grams of lactose—about 8 ounces of milk or a cup of ice cream—to set off unsettling symptoms, he says.

So if your gas or poop smells particularly pungent after you down some milk, you might want to check in with your doctor, says Dr. Ungaro. (If you’re passing wind more than usual, rule out these five other reasons you could be gassy first.)

He or she can diagnose the problem, or even rule out more concerning intestinal issues, like Crohn’s disease, as a culprit behind the stench. Then, your doctor can help you determine how much lactose you can take in per day without causing a problem. (You can also pop a Lactaid pill, which contains the lactase enzyme and allows you to digest dairy within 45 minutes, if you just must have a sundae, Aragon says.)

BODY ODOR: STRONG-SMELLING URINE IS A SYMPTOM OF A URINARY TRACT INFECTION

smelly urine

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can produce pungent, almost chemical-smelling urine, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., a urologist at Orlando Health. This happens after bacteria, most commonly E. coli, enters your urinary tract and urethra. Then, they multiply in your bladder, causing an infection.

UTIs are more frequent in women than men because their urethra—the channel that drains the bladder—is shorter. So men often ignore their smelly pee, since they figure they’re not at risk of one.

Not so: “Usually, men get infections if there’s something not allowing their bladder to drain” Dr. Brahmbhatt explains.

This means your UTI could be signaling a bigger problem, like kidney stones, diabetes, or an enlarged prostate gland, which can require surgery to treat, he says. So if you notice your pee smells funky, check in with your doctor, who will test your urine to see what’s up.

BODY ODOR: BAD BREATH IS A SYMPTOM OF SLEEP APNEA

bad breathe apnea

If your morning breath is consistently ripe—even if you brush your teeth regularly—you could be dealing with undiagnosed sleep apnea, a disorder that causes your breathing to sporadically stop and start while you sleep.

Sleep apnea can lead to excessive snoring, causing you to breathe through your mouth throughout the night. This can make your mouth very dry, which is a common cause of bad breath, says Raj Dasgupta, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California.

This allows bacteria to breed more readily—and when certain kinds multiply, they produce a sulfurous gas that can give your breath a rotten egg smell.

If you’ve ruled out other causes of bad breath, but still wake up with a smelly mouth and you suffer from daytime sleepiness and snoring, schedule an appointment with your doctor. It’s vital sleep apnea gets diagnosed quickly: The sleeping condition has been strongly associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, so treating it sooner than later can spare you of its long-term health effects, Dr. Dasgupta says.

Once you’re diagnosed, your sleep doctor can recommend a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP), a mask that rests over your nose and mouth helps that helps keep your airways open while you snooze.

Additional reporting by Jada Green

Alisa Hrustic, an associate editor at Prevention, has spent her entire career interviewing top medical experts, interpreting peer-reviewed studies, and reporting on health, nutrition, weight loss, and fitness trends for outlets like Women’s Health and Men’s Health, where she both interned and worked full-time.

 

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