Embarrassing Questions: Falling Asleep at the Wheel, Hairy Arms, and More



From Health magazine

Q: I get really sleepy when driving long distances, no matter how well-rested I am. What can I do about this?

A: Unless you rarely drink caffeine, chugging it during a road trip wont keep you awake—and you could end up jittery. Instead, try these healthier stay-alert approaches:

  • Keep it cool. Warmer temperatures can make you drowsy, so crank up the air conditioner or roll down your windows a little.
  • Take five. Stop and stretch at rest stops or gas stations.
  • Rock out. Keep tunes handy and sing along shamelessly. Unfamiliar music (or talk radio) isnt as good, because its easier to tune out. Stick with your favorites.
  • Keep your mouth moving. Chewing gum or sucking on a piece of hard candy can help keep you alert.
  • Travel light. Sunlight is a natural stimulant, so try to drive during the day.
  • One thing you should not do: Dial up a pal to gab away the grogginess. Talking on the phone (even hands-free) diverts your attention from the road, upping your chance of having an accident.

Next Page: Hairy arms?

[ pagebreak ]Q: I hate that my arms are getting hairier as I age. Whats the best solution?

A: Darker, thicker body hair is just one of those irksome effects of getting older. The good news is there are several options for banishing unwanted growth. You just have to decide which one best suits your needs.

Some women simply go the razor-and-shaving-cream route every few days; others opt for waxing—not so comfortable, but results last up to two weeks. Laser removal and electrolysis are the best semipermanent solutions for arms, but theyre likely to run several hundred dollars. With laser removal, annual touch-up sessions are sometimes needed to maintain the look.

Cosmetic bleaching creams are a good, inexpensive option if youre facing darker, not necessarily thicker, hair growth. Before lathering up, test a small area for an allergic reaction.

If you notice changes like acne or hair growth on your face or chest, see your doctor. Hair growth is sometimes linked to polycystic ovary syndrome, which can cause infertility, high blood pressure, or strokes if left untreated.

Q: My stomach is so sensitive that Im afraid to eat out for fear that something will disagree with me. What can I do?

A: Start by gathering some information in a food diary. Write down everything you eat, when you eat it, and when your stomach gives you grief. Then share the data with your doc. Even if you dont see a correlation, your doctor might.

One cause shell consider is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition thats common in women and thought to be triggered by some foods, as well as stress. IBS typically causes abdominal pains and diarrhea, and bloating or constipation. Even normal levels of stress can cause a flare-up. If your doctor suspects this is your problem, she may recommend a laxative, fiber supplements, or an antispasmodic medication.

Other culprits shell consider: lactose intolerance (inability to break down dairy products), celiac disease (a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat), or an ulcer. For these, she may suggest cutting a food or food group out of your diet, or recommend meds. If she suspects an ulcer, your doctor might schedule you for an endoscopy, a visual check of the upper digestive organs.

Q: Ive stumbled a lot lately and have felt more clumsy than usual in my yoga class. Whats wrong?

A: It could simply be stress or your mind multitasking even when youre not. Here, some ways that will help you relax and focus.

  • Get it out on paper. This technique can help you cope, according to several studies.
  • Do breathing exercises. Theyll empty your mind.
  • Hit the sack. Try turning in 30 minutes earlier; too little sleep can cause balance problems.

Dizziness and poor balance can also signal an inner-ear problem (often due to inflammation from a cold or infection). Your doctor will treat it with meds. Other more serious causes your doc can rule out: a neurological disorder, or an autoimmune condition, such as multiple sclerosis.