Top 5 Body Disasters -- At Work

Find out how to deal with these embarrassing issues that could derail your workday.

woman embarrassed while speaking at work
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A seemingly normal workday can quickly become horrific if your body seems to turn against you. Whether it’s bad breath that just won’t quit, hot flashes during a meeting or even the sudden urge to pass gas in a crowded conference room, these body blunders can make for really awkward moments with coworkers or clients.

Click through to see some possible embarrassing body disasters and healthy ways to deal with them that will keep your work reputation intact.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

man checking his breath at work
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Bad Breath

Notice a coworker slowly stepping back from you in the break room? It could be your breath. Try a tongue cleaner to scrape the back of your tongue and clear out bacteria, advises integrative medicine physician Robin Miller, MD. If the problem is frequent, be sure you’re hydrated. “[Water] helps give you healthy saliva and clear bacteria from your mouth.” Gum can also help produce extra saliva.

Can’t shake the smell? Miller says stomach problems or acid reflux can cause issues, or it may be something more serious like kidney disease.

man embarrassed at work
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Passing Gas in a Meeting

You’re sitting in a meeting and out of nowhere you’ve got gas. Should you risk embarrassment or hold it until the end? Miller says it’s not a health concern, so it’s completely up to you. “There's no harm in holding onto it for a little while. Your colon is not going to explode or anything.” Miller says. Don’t want to spoil the meeting with smelly gas? The foods you grab for lunch could be the culprit. Of course, try to avoid beans but also watch out for broccoli, eggs, fish, meat, cauliflower and cabbage -- all of which cause sulfuric smelling gas. 

woman in bathroom stall
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Period Problems

Starting your period at work can be stressful when supplies aren’t available. Which is smarter: a do-it-yourself maxi pad or tampon? “Pad,” Miller says. “You don't want to stick anything up there. It's not good for you. [And] you can actually do pretty well doing a makeshift maxi pad.” She suggests using toilet paper or paper towels wrapped in toilet paper and then wrapping it outside of your underwear.

toilet paper, bathroom
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If diarrhea is making you do laps from your desk to the bathroom, take note of any other symptoms. “If you have a fever and other things are going on, stay home and take care of yourself,” Miller says. But if you’re one of the many people who simply have a nervous stomach, consider taking an anti-diarrheal medicine. If you take over-the-counter loperamide, Miller says to just drink water or other fluids after you take it. “The minute you eat, [diarrhea could] start happening again.”

woman having a hot flash at her desk
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Hot Flashes

Hot flashes aren’t necessarily embarrassing -- unless you’re in a meeting with C-suite executives and suddenly you feel like you’re a thousand degrees and sweat is beading on your forehead. As women going through menopause know, hot flashes can strike without warning. “When you're nervous they can come on. They can come on randomly,” Miller says.

But there are some things you can do to help control them, especially at work. Keep a fan at your desk or an electronic one in your office. Dress in light fabrics like cotton or linen that release heat better than fabrics like silk or wool. And choose cooler foods to eat and drink, as hot coffee or soup could raise body temp and trigger a flash.

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