The next time you have a case of heartburn, look to your waist, instead of your plate. Several sartorial addictions affect our health over time. Tight pants, for instance, cause heartburn, hyperventilation and acid reflux. Dr Gautam Mallapur, a general practitioner, tells us which items of clothing to beware of.
|While Anushka Sharma looks pretty as a picture here, emulating her tight denims and closed shoes look too often may not be such a hot idea
Side-effects: Stress incontinence, heartburn, hyperventilation, panic attacks
The tummy controller and bum shaper has been welcomed into your inner circle. And why not? It tucks in the flaba and perks up the behind. But worn over a long period of time, these items contract your abdomen and bladder region, weakening muscles. “It makes one leak urine at the slightest of pressure, say when you cough or sneeze,” says Dr Mallapur.
“It squeezes the lungs,” says Mallapur, “and after long hours, the lack of oxygen makes one giddy and causes perspiration. If the person does not immediately realise what’s happening, you could have a panic attack.” During and after meals, the increased pressure on the lower stomach can force acid up the food pipe, leading to heartburn. Corsets can worsen a reflux or irritable bowel syndrome.
Side-effects: Cystitis, fungal infections, male infertility
While choosing underwear (bras or knickers), ensure that the elastic is not too tight and that the fabric is natural. “Under-wired bras have been thrashed by the British Medical Association because they prevent the lymphatic circulation by pressing against the skin,” says Mallapur. “In men, tight underwear presses against the gonads, impeding flow of the sperms through the spermatic cone, which could lead to infertility in the long term.”
Synthetic underwear does not allow airflow, resulting in fungal infections that could remain on the skin, or travel up the urinary tract. Thongs transfer bacteria forwards, helping the infection spread.
Unnatural fabrics also heat up the area, which is bad news for the sperm sacs. Also, if the elastic of the underwear sits too tightly around the hinge of the thigh, it could obstruct the lymphatic flow, resulting in swollen ankles.
Side-effects: Nerve pain in the leg/arm/fingers, heartburn, aggravated hernia
Trousers that are a size too small, or constricting skinny pants clamp vital nerves that emerge from the spine. So if you feel a sharp pain running down your little finger, or leg, it might be because of the strain around your waist. “It may feel like the pain of cervical spondylosis,” warns Mallapur. The Canadian Medical Association Journal recently reported a research that said figure-hugging trousers increased the risk of meralgia paresthetica — compression of the nerve running from the pelvis into the outer thigh. Tingling, numbness and burning are symptoms.
In our humid climate, says Mallapur, tight jeans also create a warm and moist environment which fungi thrive in; and soon they send postcards inviting friends — urinary tract infection and dermatitis.
A very real danger of pants that are too tight — hernia. If you cough, laugh or sneeze, it could lead to a hernia. “In the worst case scenario, the hernia could get strangulated or turn gangrenous,’ says Mallapur. Ideally, the pants should sit just above the hips, without placing pressure on the abdomen.
Tight collars, ties
Side-effects: Glaucoma, dizziness, headaches, shoulder pain
Collars and ties strangulate the neck and constrict the carotid arteries going to the shoulder and head. The result is headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, cervical spondylosis-like pain in the shoulder, down the arm, and, if you are extremely unlucky, blindness.
“Glaucoma is when there is excessive pressure on the eye-ball, damaging the optic nerve,” says the Mount Mary based doctor. Glaucoma can also be hereditary, so people who are prone to it are in especial danger of the tie clamping down on the jugular vein, causing the eye to bulge.
Side-effects: Bunions, hammer toes, fungal infections, fused toes
“The first thing to remember,” says Dr Mallapur, “is that closed shoes, and shoes and socks are not suited to our weather at all. The sweat is an invitation to fungal infections.” Foul odour and rashes would be the smallest part of one’s problem.
With prolonged use, your feet can get disfigured or the toes could fuse together. “Prying them apart is a surgical procedure,” he says. Narrow or tight shoes also bend toe joints out of shape, making them curl up. Thus the name, hammertoes. Narrow shoes also cause ingrown toenails, swollen ankles and corns and calluses. And any kind of constraint on the lymphatic system stops the flow to the points below the ‘dam’, mostly pooling all the liquid at the ankles.
A very real danger of pants that are too tight — hernia. Narrow shoes could fuse your toes