Our bodies are impressive networks of complex systems, all working together to keep us healthy. They also give us
signs of system malfunctions, sometimes in unexpected ways.
1. Dry eyes
What it could mean: You need more vitamin A
Dry eyes, or being unable to produce tears, is one of the major signs of vitamin A deficiency – a fat-soluble vitamin often found in dairy, fish, eggs and meat. In extreme cases, a long-term lack of the vitamin can even result in blindness. Studies have found that increasing your vitamin A intake can reduce eye dryness by more than 60%.
2. Sweet smelling breath
What it could mean: You’re at risk of diabetes
Chemicals called ketones begin to develop in people who don’t produce enough insulin, and as they’re expelled through saliva, the smell of your breath may change. Often, people lacking in insulin – which is the case with diabetics – will notice their breath smells sweet, or takes on a strong, astringently chemical odour.
3. Tasting metal
What it could mean: You have kidney disease
Malfunctioning kidneys cause a substance called urea to build up in your bloodstream, resulting in a uremia, a condition which produces a metallic taste in your mouth. Alone, this symptom is probably nothing to worry about, but in conjunction with back pain and changes in urinary habits, it could be indicating chronic kidney disease.
4. Balding eyebrows
What it could mean: Your thyroid is underactive
While eyebrows do tend to thin as we age, a lack of thyroid hormones being produced due to hypothyroidism can make the hair loss more drastic. This is usually most noticeable in the outer third of the eyebrows. If you’ve noticed your eyebrows beginning to look decidedly less full, visit your doctor for a thyroid check.
5. Multiple skin tags
What it could mean: You’re at risk of diabetes
Many studies have linked having a large amount of skin tags, which are benign growths on the skin, to chronically high
blood sugar levels. Scientists aren’t entirely sure how the two are connected, but research suggests that people with
multiple skin tags are at a higher risk than others of developing type-2 diabetes.
6. Yellow bumps on your eyelids
What it could mean: You’re at risk of heart disease
These are known as xanthelasma, and are linked to poor cardiac health. They’re actually cholesterol deposits, and people
who develop them are around 40% more likely to develop heart disease, and about 50% more likely to experience a heart
attack, according to research.
7. A grey ring around your Cornea
What it could mean: You have high cholesterol
A grey or white-ish ring around your cornea is known as arcus senilis, and may be an indication of unhealthy levels of cholesterol. It occurs because of fatty deposits around the edge of the cornea.
8. Thinning hair
What it could mean: You’re iron deficient
According to research, an iron deficiency, which means less oxygen being transported through your blood, might be
responsible for hair loss. If you’ve noticed your hair thinning and falling out, you might want to up your iron
9. Cracked heels
What it could mean: Your thyroid is under- or overactive
Both hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can cause thick, dry skin, which is most noticeable on the heels of your feet. If your heels have a build-up of dry skin, which is cracked and appears scaly, visit your doctor for a thyroid check.
10. Puffy eye area
What it could mean: Your heart or kidneys are at risk
Heart and kidney issues can both stop your body from being able to properly rid itself of excess fluid. This fluid may then
build up in unusual areas of your body, causing swelling and puffiness, especially around the eyes.
11. Yellow eyes
What it could mean: You are developing jaundice
If you’ve noticed the whites of your eyes changing to a bright yellow hue, there’s a chance you’re suffering from
jaundice. Your skin might also take on a yellow tinge. Many conditions can cause jaundice, but they all point to your liver not functioning properly. If your liver isn’t able to effectively break down a pigment in bile called bilirubin, the pigment will cause the yellow colouring. Visit your doctor, especially if you’re also feverish.
12. Swollen ankles
What it could mean: You have high blood pressure
Having high blood pressure means your heart has to work harder than it should, which leads to less effective blood
circulation throughout your body. This can cause fluid to be retained in places such as your lower legs and ankles,
making them swell and feel tight. While this may begin as a simple inconvenience, over time the swelling can cause more
serious damage, and can affect the blood vessels and skin of the swollen areas.
13. Ice cravings
What it could mean: You’re lacking iron
If you’re feeling an inexplicable desire to crunch on ice cubes, you may need to increase your iron by taking a supplement
or eating more meat, fish and green leafy vegetables. Your body requires iron to help transport oxygen to your muscles and
brain, and people who are iron deficient tend to have less oxygen in their blood. Researchers believe that chewing ice
prompts your body to increase blood flow to your brain, which may make you feel more awake and alert.
14. Feeling colder than usual
What it could mean: You have an underactive thyroid
If you’re shivering while people around you are sweating and can’t stand to have the aircon on, even during hot weather,
there might be something wrong with your thyroid. Heat is a by-product of burning calories, so when your thyroid is underactive and not burning calories, you’re not generating heat. About 40% of people with an underactive thyroid
report feeling unusually cold and unable to warm up.
15. Sore ears after eating
What it could mean: You have acid reflux
As the oesophagus and the ears are both found along the vagus nerve, stomach acid that irritates the oesophagus can
result in referred pain reaching the ears, or any other point along the nerve. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can occur without a person ever even experiencing heartburn, but showing other, more unusual symptoms – one of the most
common being ear pain.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: STOCK.ADOBE.COM
The advice contained here is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your GP or a doctor for specific information regarding your health.