People aren’t lying about their sick days after all: The average British person comes down with 124 ailments a year and 9,672 in a lifetime, according to a new study by the Benenden Healthcare Society.
But instead of letting your inner hypochondriac take over, we gathered the best DIY remedies for the top 10 most common ailments. Here’s your guide to fix just about all of your aches and pains. (For 991 more, check out the all-new Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies.)
1. Bumps and Bruises
Ice the site of injury for 15 minutes, but make sure to cover the cold in a thin cloth to protect your skin. After 24 hours of the injury, now use heat—a warm washcloth will work. It’ll dilate the blood vessels, improving circulation to clean up the injured tissue.
Just add coffee: A recent research review found that about 10 percent of people with acute headache or dental pain saw more relief when they added 100 milligrams of caffeine to a dose of pain meds. And sit up straight: It could increase your pain tolerance, according to a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
3. Back Pain
Most backaches are caused by muscle sprains, strains, or ligament inflammation, said Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell. Your solution: Ice the affected area, then warm it with heat packs, says Hedge. Another solution: “A good mattress, like a Technogel.” (Here’s how to fix it with massage.)
4. Stomach Pain
A study in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that people who ate 1 gram of ginger root significantly reduced their stomach discomfort after drinking a glucose solution. Chop or grind it and add it to a chicken dish to send nausea packing.
If you cramp up, stretch the muscle involved, and hold the stretch for as long as necessary. Gently massaging the muscles can also help relieve your pain by promoting blood flow in the area. Find out how to uncramp your workout style.
Wash the cut out, put a cream like Lubriderm directly onto it, Band-Aid it, and don’t touch, said Dr. Hayes Gladstone, a dermatologist at Stanford University. It’ll lock the moisture in, and may even help new skin cells form.
Stand up! Gravity keeps food down, said Dr. Gary W. Falk, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Your saliva also acts as a natural antacid when you swallow. When you’re asleep, you don’t have gravity on your side, and you’re no longer making saliva, Falk added. Your move: Eat early. A recent study found that people who ate dinner 2 hours before bed had considerably less reflux throughout the night than those who ate 6 hours before.
8. Cricked Necks
When adults with neck pain were treated with either anti-inflammatory meds, basic home exercises, or professional spinal manipulation, the people receiving spinal manipulation saw the most pain decrease, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Joints need to move to stay healthy, said Dr. Gert Bronfort, professor at the Wolfe Harris Center for Clinical Studies at Northwestern Health Sciences University. Your move: Look straight up and rotate your neck, stretching it side-to-side. Learn how to do the quadruped chin tuck.
9. Blocked Sinuses
Your best bet for a DIY remedy? A long, warm, shower, said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist and chair of the department of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University. Humid, moist air will reach your sinuses and clear your nose, offering the fastest relief.
10. Shaving Cuts
Clean the nick and apply pressure to it first. Wipe the top of your antiperspirant with a tissue, and swipe a Q-tip over the top. Dab it onto the nick, advised Dr. Hayes Gladstone, a dermatologist at Stanford University. “The aluminum chloride in deodorant can help close a nick.”
Additional research by Leah Zerbe, Dana Blinder, Brian Dalek, and Adam Baer