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The Skinny On Tight Clothes & Your Health

MIAMI (CBS4) - From digestive problems to headaches to numbness, all kinds of health problems can pop up simply from the clothes that you're wearing.

It's one thing to be fashionable. It's another to be so uncomfortable that you have to go to the doctor.

"The skinny jeans in themselves are too tight sometimes," Maribel Martinez said.

Too much squeezing yourself into matchstick jeans can cause nerve compression.

Dr. John Michael Li, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, says that can lead to "Meralgia Paresthetica," in which a nerve running from your abdomen to your thigh is compressed by tight clothing.

"Some people get numbness, tingling," Li says.

Jamming into tight jeans can also cause abdominal discomfort, heartburn and belching. "Tight pants syndrome" happens most often when someone's waist is at least 3 inches larger than their pants size.

Cinch belts can also cause similar problems.

"The pain and discomfort, for some patients, it's very uncomfortable, and so they require medication," Li says.

If you wear body shapers, remember they're made for smoothing, not squeezing you down a full size.

And if worn too tight or for too long, some shapers can also prevent the lungs from fully inflating, reducing oxygen intake, making you feel lightheaded.

Men aren't immune from health-related problems associated with tight clothing.

The crisp combination of a dress shirt and tie can make any guy look put-together.  But about seven out of 10 men buy shirts that are too small, according to a Cornell University study.

"You have your carotid vessels going up to the brain, and so sometimes people can have some restriction in blood flow," Li says.

And that can cause headaches and blurred vision. Tight shirt collars and ties can also increase muscle tension in the back and shoulders.

"There's no need to cause yourself injury to just be fashionable," Li says.

High-heeled shoes and heavy handbags can also create problems.  Heels higher than two inches have been linked to bunions, hammer toes and ankle sprains.  And heavy handbags worn on the shoulder can throw your back out of line.

The American Chiropractic Association recommends that women carry no more than 10 percent of their body weight in a bag.

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