Weird Symptoms, Explained
What’s behind odd tics, pains, and other symptoms (and how to get rid of them).
Foot cramps? Shivers? They’re usually just a nuisance, but here’s what these strange symptoms may be trying to tell you.
You Get Light-Headed When You Stand Up Quickly
The explanation: You could be mildly dehydrated. Or you might have orthostatic hypotension (a.k.a. postural hypotension), which occurs when blood rushes to your feet and away from your head as you stand up suddenly. (People with low blood pressure can be especially prone to this phenomenon.)
The fix: Drink plenty of fluids and be sure that when you stand up, you do it slowly, says Donnica Moore, a physician in Far Hills, New Jersey. If you see stars anyway, grab a table or a chair to stabilize yourself or sit back down.
When to see a doctor: If the light-headedness persists or if you actually faint.
Your Urine Smells Funny
The explanation: The change in color or odor could be from something you ate, like asparagus, or swallowed, like a new medication or multivitamin. Or it could be a sign of a urinary-tract infection, even if you don’t have pain or need to go to the bathroom frequently (the usual telltale signs), says Kathryn Teng, a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic.
The fix: “Drink plenty of fluids to see if your body will clear it,” says Teng.
When to see a doctor: If the foul smell or strange color persists. A urinalysis can determine if anything unusual (like diabetes or kidney problems) is going on.
You Sometimes Get a Painful Swelling Under Your Arm
The explanation: It could be due to a plugged hair follicle or an ingrown hair in your armpit (from shaving, for example) or a swollen lymph node (from an infection).
The fix: Try putting a warm compress on it several times a day and see if it goes away within a week, says Teng.
When to see a doctor: If it lasts longer or if it worsens (and gets red or irritated). “It could be a sign of a breast infection, a cyst, or a tumor,” says Teng.
Your Hands Get Sweaty in Certain Situations
The explanation: Sweaty palms happen to everyone now and then, and they’re a normal response to stress or a case of the jitters.
The fix: Taking a few minutes to try to relax—by breathing deeply, meditating, or visualizing a tranquil place—may help prevent or relieve the sweatiness, says Teng.
When to see a doctor: If your hands are constantly sweaty. You could have hyperhidrosis, a disorder involving excessive sweating of the hands, feet, or underarms. Applying an antiperspirant on the palms can treat the condition, says Roshini Raj, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University and the author of What the Yuck?! The Freaky & Fabulous Truth About Your Body ($20; amazon.com). So can a medication prescribed by your doctor. In very serious cases, surgery can remove the part of the nerve that’s stimulating the sweat glands to become overactive.