ASK MEN’S HEALTH
SScratching directly on a bite only makes it itch more – which is absolutely true. But scratching around it is also a bad idea. Doing that can still lead to itch-inducing inflammation and infection (like MSRA a.k.a. methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that loves to infect the skin), says Adam Friedman, M.D., a professor of dermatology at George Washington University. (Same goes for pressing a fingernail into the bite.)What’s more, scratching anywhere could trigger neurochemical shifts that may heighten the brain’s perception of itch, suggests research on rodents. Grab ice instead; icing a bite or rash for five to 10 minutes will relieve the itch by overwhelming the same nerves responsible for said itch, Friedman says
I LOVE A COLD BEER AFTER A HOT WORKOUT. BAD IDEA? — TONY
Chill, Tony—it’s fine. In fact, some research suggests that a post-workout beer might aid recovery. Okay, it was nonalcoholic beer, but still: When marathon runners drank about a litre of NA brew in the weeks before and after a big race, they had less inflammation than runners who drank a placebo. Bonus: less chance of an upper respiratory infection. Beer has water and carbs, both vital for rehydration and recovery, and the polyphenols in hops and barley boost immunity to aid recovery, says study co-author David Nieman, Ph.D., M.P.H. Have your brew with a handful of raisins or dates to pack an even bigger polyphenol punch, says Nieman. And if you’re drinking regular beer, also have water and some salty food. The combo may aid rehydration, a Dutch study suggests; more research is needed on that.
WHEN I PLAY HOOPS, MY THROAT OFTEN TIGHTENS AND MY VOICE GETS HOARSE. AM I DYING? – DAN
Not dying, Dan. Sounds like a condition called exerciseinduced vocal cord dysfunction. “It’s more common in athletes,” says mayo Clinic otolaryngologist David Lott, M.D. It occurs when the larynx, which houses the vocal cords, becomes overly sensitive. When you’re really sucking wind, “you take in more air and your vocal cords sense that as an abnormal sensation, spasm, and close up as a means of protecting themselves,” Dr. Lott says. When you feel symptoms coming on, take three strong sniffs in through your nose – it forces the vocal cords open. A permanent fix requires weeks or months of voice therapy to retrain your throat muscles; see a speech therapist for that. Left untreated, it’ll get worse.