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5 Vexing Health Questions

Are you always wondering about things that have to do with your health—but you're hesitant, afraid or embarrassed to ask? Maybe you don't really want to hear the answer, or perhaps you think there isn't one.

We've got you covered.

1. What can I do to manage my chronic knee pain?
Surgery should be the last option. There are other things you can try first. Like anti-inflammatories—either over-the-counter or stronger prescription-strength pills or creams or ointments—or injections of steroids or hyaluronic acid.

But some of the best medicine for achy knees comes in the form of exercise.
Seems counterintuitive: How can you exercise if you have knee pain? Won't it make it worse? In certain cases, it may, and you should always get clearance from your health care provider before you embark on an exercise program.

But, in many cases, exercise can help aching knees by strengthening the muscles that support your knees and decreasing stress on the knees. Even if your knees are sore, walking may help with the stiffness. If you're worried you can't do a lot, remember that some is better than none!

Losing weight also helps take the stress off of your knees: Each pound you lose can reduce the load on your knee joint by about four pounds.

2. What do I do if I wake up with puffy eyes?
You might wonder if you somehow walked into a wall in the middle of the night when you wake up and your eye looks swollen. But there could be other, more plausible reasons, like what you ate or drank the night before, allergies, a bug bite or even your sleeping position.

If you've been lying flat for many hours, fluid can accumulate under your eyes. By propping up your pillow you're giving gravity a chance to do what it does best, and pull the fluid downward, away from the eye area.

If you're in pain it's a good idea to get checked by someone in the know; otherwise, an over-the-counter antihistamine and/or a warm compress may do the trick.

3. Why are my feet getting bigger as I get older?
It may seem like your feet keep growing, but needing a larger shoe size is usually caused by changing structure of your feet due to a change in the position of the bones. This occurs from loosening of the ligaments holding the bones together and a weakening of the muscles that support the structure of your feet.

4. Is it my imagination or do young people smell different than old(er) people?
It's not your imagination. Evidence suggests that there is a distinctive "old person odor." Research published in the journal PLoS ONE found that "elevated levels of certain chemicals are a potential biomarker for old age," and humans are able to distinguish old people from younger individuals based on body odor.

5. I've been hearing about apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Does it really work?
It might—but you have to be patient. A 2009 clinical trial of obese Japanese adults compared two groups—one of which drank a beverage with 1 or 2 tablespoons of added vinegar and the other that drank a plain beverage. The group that drank the beverage containing the vinegar lost 2 to 4 pounds after 12 weeks, and the group that drank the plain drink did not lose weight.

Other studies have shown that consuming a small amount of vinegar before a meal that includes starches can help lower the starches' glycemic response, making a portion of it escape digestion.

Experts suggest that if you plan to ingest vinegar before a meal, you should dilute it with water and take it with the first few bites of the meal. (It doesn't have to be apple cider vinegar, although that's probably the most palatable. Any vinegar will work, as long as it contains at least 5 percent acetic acid.)

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