The Top 3 Worst Health Habits

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Tuesday, February 05, 2013 - 03:02 PM

obesityHealth habits are developed throughout our lifetime; some are based on the desire to experience pleasure while others are developed out of convenience.  While some health habits that we develop are good and provide us with health benefits, others put us at an increased risk of injury or disease.  Learning to cut out our worst health habits is one of the first steps that we can take to achieve better health.

Worst Health Habit #1 – Binge Drinking

While enjoying a drink once in a while is unlikely to cause you any harm, engaging in binge drinking poses a serious risk to your health.  Binge drinking involves consuming multiple beverages in one sitting.  Typically, it is defined as alcohol consumption that increases your blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08% or higher.  This usually involves consuming 5 or more drinks in one sitting if you’re a man, and 4 or more drinks in one sitting if you’re a woman.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there are multiple health problems associated with this health habit including: cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, cancers (particularly of the liver, mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus), high blood pressure, infertility problems and psychological disorders.  Individuals who binge drink are also more likely to engage in riskier behaviour such as drunk driving and unprotected sex.   Binge drinking can also lead to alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse.  If you engage in binge drinking regularly, you should seriously considering kicking this habit to avoid long term health consequences.

Reduce Your Binge Drinking With This

While you may be tempted to gulp down multiple drinks when you’re out with friends, there are some tips that you can try to stop this bad health habit.  Try limiting your social gatherings when drinking is going to be the primary activity. Try planning other ways to catch up with friends, meet at a coffee house instead of a bar once in a while.  Another tip is to keep track of how much you’re drinking in a journal and cut back if you see that your behaviour is getting out of hand.  If you’re concerned that your drinking is a health habit that you can’t control on your own, seek help from a medical professional.  There are many resources available to help you if you feel that your drinking is a problem.

Worst Health Habit #2 – Nail Biting

You may think that nail-biting isn’t one of the dangerous health habits that you have, but it’s time to re-consider this.  Nail-biting can be a sign that you’re suffering from an under-lying mental health condition such as anxiety and/or impulsive control disorder.  While nail-biting is unlikely to lead to long term damage if your nail bed is left intact, there are risks of engaging in this health habit.  Your fingernails harbour bacteria, and these bacteria may enter your mouth when you’re nail-biting.  This can lead to an increased risk of colds and other infections.   If you have a cut or a sore on or in your mouth, your chance of suffering from an infection due to your nail-biting is even higher.  Additionally, nail-biting can lead to skin infections and may aggravate existing skin conditions around your nail bed.  If you’re a nail-bitter, it’s time to quit this health habit, now.

Stop Nail Biting With These Tricks

Nail-biting is one of those health habits that may be second nature to you, so stopping this health habit may be difficult. According to the Mayo Clinic some tips to kick this nasty health habit include:

–          Avoiding situations in which you are bored

–          Keep your fingernails short and well-manicured

–          Manage your stress in a healthy way (yoga, meditation, etc.)

–          Find alternative ways to occupy your hands and mouth (play with a stress ball, chew gum, etc.)

If you’re nail-biting is due to an underlying mental health disorder, speaking with a mental health professional and possibly undergoing behaviour modification therapy may be beneficial.

Worst Health Habit #3 – Falling Asleep in Contact Lenses

You may be tired and forget to take your contact lenses out, but you’re risking more than dry eyes in the morning when you engage in this bad health habit according to  Robert Cykiert, MD is an Ophthalmologist in the New York area, and he states that there is a significant increase in the risk of developing serious infections of the cornea when an individual sleeps with their contacts in. He reports that he has seen infections of the cornea that result in permanent vision loss and more severe infections that have resulted in the need for corneal transplants.  Another concern when sleeping with contacts in is the risk of developing conjunctivitis because of an allergic reaction to your contact lenses.

Avoid This Bad Health Habit

Having a bedtime routine, that involves removing your contacts before hitting the sack, may be the best way to kick this bad health habit.  However, falling asleep with your contacts in may still happen from time to time.  In order to protect your eyes, in case this happens, be sure to practice good eye hygiene.  This includes washing your hands before putting your contacts in or taking them out.  Also, be sure to use new cleaning solution every time you’re handling your contacts.  This will help to decrease your risk of a serious eye infection in case you fall asleep with your contacts in.

There are many health habits which we should consider changing.  Binge drinking, nail-biting and sleeping with contacts are three of these habits which we should try to stop.  Kicking these bad health habits will lead to better health by decreasing the risks of chronic diseases and infections. Pay attention to your daily habit, if you’re conscious of your actions, you’ll be more likely to successfully quit your bad health habits.

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