There’s a lot going on inside our bodies that we don’t know about. But sometimes there are signs – from sleeplessness to skin issues – to show all’s not well.
‘The body is a complex network of physiological systems that operate together. This is why you can have superficial signs and symptoms of a deeper or more widespread problem,’ says women’s health doctor and founder of Twice The Doctor, Dr Jill Forer.
Here are 10 indicators that may mean it’s time to get a check-up...
Poor sleep can be caused by overheating, alcohol and drug consumption, prescribed medications, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety or overexposure to the light of a phone or tablet, Dr Forer advises.
Dark Spots on Nails
‘Most commonly, abnormal nails are from trauma or infection,’ Dr Forer says. ‘However, there are more serious problems – a permanent black spot or line in or under the nail may be a melanoma. Plus, iron deficiency, vascular, autoimmune and even lung diseases will have nail signs.’ Check your nails when you remove polish and visit your GP if you notice any changes.
Yellow Lumps on Skin
‘Xanthelasma are yellow plaques [patches] that occur on the skin in cases where blood fats or cholesterol are too high. This yellow fat deposits in the skin and may represent what lies in the arteries,’ says Dr Forer.
Iron deficiency anaemia can cause pica, which is a desire to eat non-food items such as dirt, coal, paper or mostly, ice. An iron deficiency can be treated with supplements or dietary changes, or with injections or even a blood transfusion in severe cases.
With anaemia (when there are too few red blood cells in the blood), the pink part of the lid on the inside looks pale or whiteish instead of pink, says Dr Forer. ‘This may indicate diseases or blood loss. Your GP could easily and quickly decipher the cause of this.’
Hair loss in women can be caused by a number of reasons, such as stress, giving birth or polycystic ovarian syndrome. You may even be styling it too much! However, hair loss for no apparent reason can be a sign of something more serious, such as hyperthyroidism or lupus, so if it’s worrying you, get it checked.
‘This is usually caused by jaundice, which happens when your liver cannot properly process bilirubin,’ Dr Forer says. ‘This would also be associated with a yellowish skintone. 'Popping out’ or protruding eyes may also indicate an overactive thyroid gland.
Your tongue is a great indicator of gut health, and it should be pink with a small white coating. A thick yellow or white coat could mean an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. You may want to consider a probiotic to balance the bacteria, lay off starchy or acidic foods and visit your GP if the problem doesn’t right itself.
A 'Ring' in Eye
Another sign of health problems is when you notice a whiteish ring in the edge of the iris. ‘This could be a cholesterol ring and indicate high blood fats,’ Dr Forer says. ‘Once again, this can be easily deciphered by your GP.’
‘It may be something as simple as eczema or as sinister as cancer,’ Dr Forer says. It’s probably nothing to worry about, unless there are other niggling symptoms. ‘I think we need to take it in the context of associated signs and symptoms.’