5 Things Your Body Is Trying to Tell You Right Now
Does a twitching eyelid warrant a trip to the doctor's office? Probably not. But your occasional tics, pops, and hiccups are clues worth listening to. We investigated five common quirks that might signal health issues.
Illustration: Patrick Hruby
Translation: A long day in high heels or shoes with poor arch support can strain your calf muscles, which may lead to cramps and even painful charley horses hours later. Another possible culprit is an electrolyte imbalance in your body's fluids, typically brought on by dehydration.
Remedy: Sufferers have been known to try everything from taking the antimalarial drug quinine to sticking a bar of soap under their pillow. For better results, focus on good shoe support, proper hydration, and eating a diet rich in electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and magnesium (think bananas and nuts). To calm a charley horse, sit on the floor with legs straight and flex your foot toward your shin to stretch the calf.
See a doctor if...you get leg cramps on a weekly basis, or they are so severe they regularly disrupt your sleep. Some medications can impact your electrolyte balance, which makes chronic cramps worth discussing with your doctor.
Translation: Hiccups happen when your diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen, suddenly contracts, resulting in an abrupt closure of your vocal cords. The diaphragm is controlled in part by the vagus and phrenic nerves, and experts believe that irritation of those nerves—by, say, your distended stomach after a big meal—is what causes the muscle to spasm. "Hiccups can be a cue that you've eaten too much," says Heather Agee, MD, at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Nervousness and excitement are other possible triggers, as they can also cause the diaphragm to contract.
Remedy: Though there's no scientific cure, you may be able to quiet hiccups by interrupting your breathing patterns (hold your breath), stimulating the back of your throat (gargle water), or compressing your diaphragm (pull your knees up to your chest).
See a doctor if...your hiccups last longer than 48 hours, which could signal a more serious issue, such as a central nervous system disorder.
Next: The causes of eyelid twitches, jaw popping, and light-headedness
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.