Your top health questions of 2023, answered

One thing I love about editing the Ask Well column is the camaraderie it creates. Each week we answer a health question: Why am I so congested all the time? (I’ve wondered this too!) Why does my sleep get worse as I get older? (I’m right there with you.) Does my coffee habit need intervention? (Pour me another while we figure it out.)

When I check our inbox, I’m surprised by what comes in: questions that cover the joys, agonies, confusions and vulnerabilities of being a person. And fortunately for all of us, we can look for the answers.

Here are 10 of the most popular health questions of 2023.

The answer depends on the texture of your hair, how oily it is, whether it’s colored, and more.

“While it may seem like leaving your scalp squeaky clean and oil-free is optimal,” said Dr. Murad Alam, a dermatologist at Northwestern University, “keep in mind that the scalp is a living part of your body, and not a dinner.” plate in your dishwasher.”

Joint pain, stiffness and swelling are common complaints of older adults and may be the first sign of a feared diagnosis: arthritis. This umbrella term describes more than 100 conditions that cause inflammation in the joints. But it doesn’t have to be an inevitable result of aging. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Maybe you stayed up late watching Doomscrolling, or whipped your sheets into a tornado repeating an awkward conversation. Either way, you may be wondering: will a midday nap make up for those precious hours of lost sleep? We discovered that the answer is complicated. Here’s what naps can (and can’t) do for your health.

So you wake up every morning full and want to know what’s going on. Is it as cold as you (and everyone else) seem to be? The anatomy of your nose? Allergies? Chronic congestion is difficult to treat, experts say, because there are so many things that could be causing it. But there are some ways to find relief.

If that congestion is really caused by a cold, turn to foods and drinks that are hydrating, nutritious, and comforting (hello, chicken noodle soup!). Here’s how nutrition can help fight infection, plus what foods and drinks to avoid.

As a blatant tumbler and tumbler, I’ve noticed that the older I get, the less likely I am to wake up refreshed. It turns out there are medical reasons for this: an aging brain, certain health conditions, hormones, and lifestyle changes could be the cause. The good news is that sleepless nights are not a fate you have to live with.

Any activity that disrupts your regular eating or sleeping schedule risks setting you back. The culprits are usually dehydration, immobility, time zone changes, and an altered diet. Here’s how to make everything work a little smoother when you’re away from home.

If you spend any time on the self-care side of social media, you’ll see video after video of influencers soaking up products from an entire medicine cabinet. But simpler is often better when it comes to caring for your face. Here’s what dermatologists say you really need.

Raise your hand if you’re drinking coffee while reading this. Keep it elevated if you’re having your second (or third, or fourth) cup of the day. Coffee contains thousands of chemical compounds that may be related to good health. But it is also an important source of caffeine, which in excess can cause problems such as nervousness, anxiety, nausea and sleeping problems. While experts say dangerous side effects from coffee consumption are rare, it’s still possible to overdo it. Here’s how to tell if you’ve served too much.

Do you have more questions for our health journalists? ask well.