Holding your pee
CHAjAMP/Shutterstock When you gotta go, you should go! Holding it in for too long is not good for your health. “Urine is like a creek or river,” says Grant Fowler, MD, vice chair of family and community medicine at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and a member of the medical staff at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “If you block it, the stream becomes stagnant and gives bacteria the chance to grow in the bladder, and maybe to move back upstream to your kidneys. Keeping it flowing minimizes the risk of infection.” Asif Ansari, MD, medical director of the Montefiore Medical Group, says holding it can put you at risk for bladder, kidney, and even prostate infections, especially if you have an underlying urological condition or are pregnant. In addition, some studies have shown that holding it for too long can actually stretch out your bladder, a condition called “infrequent voiders syndrome.” Plus, if you’re not going four to seven times a day (at least every four to six hours), you’re probably not drinking enough fluids, and may be dehydrated. Find out the truth about these 15 health myths that make doctors cringe.
Constantly chewing gum
devonx/Shutterstock You might think gum gives you fresh breath, or maybe it helps alleviate tension, like squeezing an oral stress ball. But if you chew gum all the time, it could be putting too much pressure on your jaw. “The temporomandibular joint—at the top of the jaw—is a synovial joint just as seen in the knees,” says Jeannette South-Paul, MD, medical director of the community health services division of UPMC, Andrew W. Mathieson Professor and chair of the department of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “If you use those joints too much, you can develop arthritis, clicking, and pain.” Plus, swallowing too much air can lead to stomach upset, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Biting your nails
Arman Zhenikeyev/Shutterstock Another nervous habit that’s really not good for you is chewing on your nails. “Biting your nails can result in damage to the nails and infection of the skin surrounding it, called paronychia,” Dr. Ansari says. The spread of germs can work the other way, too. “In addition, this can introduce viruses into the body, resulting in upper respiratory and other infections,” he says. Dr. Fowler says you could also damage your teeth, or even crack a tooth! Plus, the psychological reasons why you do it need to be addressed. “Biting nails is usually a subconscious habit frequently made worse by anxiety,” Dr. Fowler says. “What is making you so anxious? Anxiety itself may not be dangerous, but it can affect the quality of your life.” A study from Canada found that nail biting is also caused by boredom and frustration—two traits of perfectionists, according to the research. Luckily you can try these six tricks to stop biting your nails for good.