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Nervous Habits That May Be Affecting Your Health

Most of us have a few nervous habits, from cracking your knuckles to chewing your pencil. But some of these tendencies may actually be bad for your health.

 Nervous habits that may be affecting your health, girl biting her nails

Most of us have a few nervous habits, from cracking your knuckles to chewing your pencil. But some of these tendencies may actually be bad for your health.

1. Biting your nails

Mom always told you that biting your nails makes your hands ugly. Prolonged nail biting can interfere with normal nail growth and damage the outer layer of your teeth. Looks aside, your hands pick up all sorts of viruses and bacteria, and they frequently stay under your fingernails. Biting your nails transfers those germs into your body and could cause you to get sick.

2. Chewing on pencils

Pencils and pens are another hotbed for germs. Germs on your hands can transfer to your writing utensil—and the common cold virus can live on hard surfaces for 24 hours. So chewing on your pencil is like putting someone’s fingers in your mouth! Chewing on writing instruments can also damage your teeth, gums, and dental work.

3. Chewing gum

Besides annoying friends and coworkers with all that snapping and popping, you could be giving yourself TMJ from overuse of jaw muscles. The sorbitol in sugarless gum has been known to produce digestive problems, and swallowing excess air while chewing also increases the risk of gassy stomach, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

4. Pulling or twisting your hair

Twirling your hair may seem like a harmless habit, but it may be damaging to your hair. When you pull or twist your hair, you’re breaking off strands. In some cases, pulling on hair can lead to scarring at the root that can cause temporary or permanent hair loss.

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5. Licking your lips

This habit can be the result of nervousness or dry weather conditions. Either way, you’re not doing your lips any favors. Licking dry lips actually causes them to dry out more quickly and exposes the damaged lip area to your acidic saliva, adding to the damage and burn you feel. In addition, chewing on your lip under stress can cause the development of fibromas, which are firm, flesh-colored growths that may require surgical removal.

6. Cracking your knuckles

Some people love that pop when air bubbles are released from between your joints when you crack your knuckles, neck, wrist, or any other place bones collide. While there is no conclusive evidence tying cracking joints to arthritis down, studies suggest cracking your knuckles can lead to ligament injury and a weaker grip.

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7. Feeding your anxiety

It’s easy to turn to a decadent piece of chocolate cake or a warm, comforting pot of mac and cheese when you feel stressed or even bored. It’s not, however, as easy to fight the effects of all of those extra calories. Emotional eating is a leading cause of weight gain and a saboteur of weight loss. It leads to overeating, especially of sugary and fatty foods. This is a major gateway to a host of health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Instead of eating to fight stress, consider taking a walk or jotting down thoughts about your feelings as a way to channel anxiety in a positive way.

8. Lying to your doctor

Doctors specialize in lots of things, but reading minds isn’t one of them. Your doctor can only work with the information he or she is given. There are some things you may find embarrassing to discuss (or admit) but not sharing with your doctor can lead to misdiagnoses, inadequate testing, and dangerous drug interactions. A Johns Hopkins study showed many patients fib about how closely they’re following doctor’s orders. Treatment only works when followed. So be honest about how many days you exercise or how often your forget to take your pills—help your doctor help you.

Interested in other awesome content? Be sure to check out other healthy living articles.


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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.


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