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Ask Dr. Mike: Natural Remedies for Heartburn & Why Are You Getting Chronic Styes?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

I get chronic styes in my right eye. Why is that and why just my right eye?

Styes are an oil gland at the edge of your eyelid that can become infected with bacteria. Styes usually show up on the outside of your eyelid as a red dot (kind of like a pimple), and can cause discomfort and pain.

The reason why you might be getting chronic styes in your right eye is because you rub your right eye more often than your left. It could also be from chronic sinusitis, an inflammation of your sinus tissue that lasts longer than eight or more weeks. Another possible reason could be from constant stress. When your body is constantly stressed out, it produces more oil, which causes your glands to become clogged.

I was wondering if there are any natural ways to cure heartburn?

One of the most effective supplements that can help ease heartburn symptoms is d-limonene. D-limonene is extracted from citrus fruits and is extremely effective.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.877.711.5211) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: February 26, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

Alright. My first question is, "I get chronic styes in my right eye. Why is that and why my right eye?"

Good questions. So, let me use this opportunity just to kind of educate a little bit about styes. Styes are an oil gland at the edge of the eyelid that becomes infected. They are infections, right? I mean, just go on Google and just type in or search "stye".

You'll see all kinds of images. Some of them, they can get pretty big in some cases and be pretty gross looking. For the most part, it just looks like a little pimple on the eyelid. In most cases, it's on the outside of the lid. Sometimes they can be more on the inside which causes a little more pain and irritation for people because it's rubbing up against the eye. But, that's what it is. It's an oil gland that becomes infected.

As a matter of fact, the most common bacteria in a stye is one that's very common in the nasal cavity and the sinus cavity. It's called staphylococcal bacteria and, usually, people that are prone to this...Well, first of all, everybody, whether you realize this or not, everybody rubs their eyes, rubs their nose. You're constantly doing that. You're constantly touching yourself. That didn't sound right. You're constantly touching your face and so, yes, you rub your eyes, rub your nose and just the bacteria—the staphylococcus—spreads and gets into an oil gland and becomes infected.

So, to answer your question, first of all, why your right eye? Well, based on what we understand how this bacteria goes from your nose to your eye, you're rubbing your right eye more. That would be the answer.

Listen, as a radiologist, I've looked at some pretty weird images of peoples' sinus cavities. It's rare, but I've seen cases where people have connections between the sinus cavities, the nasal cavities and the eye ducts. I mean, I've seen it. Sometimes it happens when people have chronic sinusitis. That chronic inflamed lining of the sinuses connection causes some erosions into the bones and allow weird connections to happen in between the eye and the sinuses. So, maybe there's something there. Do you suffer from chronic sinusitis and you now have this easy connection between the sinus cavity and your eye ducts? I don't know. Maybe. I guess if you do have chronic sinusitis, that might be it. Or, maybe you're just rubbing your right eye more. So, I don't really have a direct answer for you. It is interesting. You know, I looked this up.

You can go to I just did it myself. It's a nice website. It's kind of like the WebMD for eyes and it does say on their page about styes that it does seem to happen on one eye or the other more often than not. Now, it doesn't say right or left, so most likely, that tells me that we tend to rub our right eyes more or left eyes more and that's where the styes form. So, that's probably why.

So now, the chronic condition of this, what happens first of all, there are two ways to look at this. So, you have chronic styes. Number one, it could be related to some sort of weird connection you have between your sinuses and your eyes, like especially if you have chronic sinusitis. So, that's one aspect of that. That's the first question I would ask you in my office is I would say, "Well, do you have chronic sinusitis? Do we have some sort of weird connection that's formed from all of that inflammation in your sinuses?" That would be one route to look at.

But, the other route, when it comes to chronic styes, is stress. We know that when we're stressed, when we have high levels of cortisol and the neurotransmitters, epinephrine, norepinephrine, when we're just revved up, when our body is under a sympathetic drive—that fight or flight—we produce more oil. So, a lot of times when people are stressed out, they will produce more oil in the gland. That oil has a greater chance of being clogged. You, then, rub the bacteria in it from your nose and boom! There's the stye. So, it could be related to an anatomical situation with chronic sinusitis or it could be related to stress.

Those are the two most common reasons for chronic styes. But, it is an infection. I often got the question when I was practicing out in Texas, "Is it contagious?" Kids get this a lot because they're rubbing gunk all over their face, right? I mean, kids use their hands as tissue. So, you see styes a lot in children and a common question that I would get from parents is, "Is it contagious?" Technically speaking, it can be. It's not pink eye. That's different--totally different.

But it is contagious because it is staphylococcus and so you have to be careful with it. But, it's not highly contagious. It's not pink eye or anything like that. But, yes. You need to be aware that it is infectious. I think a lot of people don't realize it is infectious. Don't ever pop it, either. You know, a lot of times, people, especially when the stye is on the outside of the lid, they will be very tempted to pop it because it's pimple-ish. We like to pop pimples. The problem is when you do pop it, first of all, you can now spread that infection into the eye, so you have to be careful, right?

But also remember, too, you could have a stye on the outside of the lid or on the inside, but in some cases, it covers both of them. It starts on the inside and travels to the outside. So, if you pop it, you could push all that gunk to the inside and it pops in the inside and can infect more of the bottom of the lid, the eyelid and can cause a lot of problems. The more you pop a stye, because they often seem to happen in the same areas, you really start to break down those oil glands and they lose their integrity and you're going to be at increased risk for styes down the line. So, don't pop them. People love to do it. It's very tempting, but don't do that. Okay. So, that's the stye. You're right eye—it's either chronic sinusitis or you're just rubbing your right eye and the reason it's happening a lot, may be just stress. So, some of those are the answer there.

Okay, let's go on to the next question. "I was wondering if there are any natural ways to cure heartburn. Thanks, Lauren."

Lauren, yes. You know, one of my favorite natural ways to cure heartburn, is called d-limonene. D-limonene is a compound that comes from citrus fruit and it just coats the stomach really well. It's one of the most effective supplements I've ever seen. What I mean by that is you can take somebody with heartburn symptoms, and put them on d-limonene for a couple weeks. You kind of have to load it up in the system, but often, after that first two weeks, most people can control their heartburn with just one or two a week—a week, right?

So, you know, people with heartburn are popping antacids like candy throughout the entire day, every day, but with d-limonene, you can get to a point with maybe one pill a week, maybe 2 pills a week and it can control the heartburn. It is that effective and people swear by d-limonene. So, I would check that out.

The only caveat to that and the only warning with d-limonene, Lauren, is if you've been diagnosed with ulcer disease. If you already have an ulcer, a gastric ulcer or a peptic ulcer, d-limonene is a mild acid and I know that seems weird, right? You're using a mild acid to control heartburn, but it works. But, if you have an ulcer, it can irritate it a little bit and you might have some pain with it. So, if you have established ulcer disease, don't take d-limonene. Something like carnosine is better for that. Or licorice. So, try d-limonene if you don't have ulcers.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.