Illness is something we as humans are forever dreading, especially since we know some cases can be chronic or life-threatening. The worst part is, we don’t realize we're ill until the symptoms become unavoidable. By following the self-checks below you can assure yourself of your body's health - they’re quick, easy and definitely worth knowing! You’d be surprised to see what the smallest sign in your body may indicate.
1. Check your eyes for cholesterol levels
A lack of white in your eyes normally indicates that you’re tired or hung-over, but surprisingly enough, excess white in your eyes, such as a white line circling your iris, might be indicative of high cholesterol levels. Finding that your eyelids have a flat, yellowish color with velvety patches is also a serious sign. Do not let this symptom go unnoticed and risk getting further complications, such as coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks in the future. See your GP to get your cholesterol checked and treated!
2. Count your moles to check for skin diseases
Moles are generally harmless, but if you find that you have more than 50 moles on your body, take this as a big warning sign, especially if they are multi-colored, growing in size, seem inflamed, or have a ragged edge. If you notice any of these signs in your moles, a good idea would be to regularly keep a record of their development by taking photos so it would be easier for your doctor to inspect them. If your moles also start to redden, become itchy or even bleed, seek medical advice as soon as possible. Such unusual-looking moles may be the cause of a type of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. Take our moles test to see if you know your moles.
3. Look for signs before you flush the toilet
Our excretions can also tell us about the health of our intestines, our digestion and our level of hydration. Every stool color, for instance, indicates different dietary causes or even problems. For example, a yellow color indicates excess fats, due to a malabsorption disorder such as celiac disease. What is most worrying is finding black or red stools, which may signify stomach or intestinal bleeding. These call for prompt medical attention. Urine can also be checked for its color: A pale color signifies good health, whereas a dark yellow color might mean you're dehydrated and need to increase your intake of water. Learn more about what the color of your urine says about your health.
Image: Daphne Bahamonde
4. Check your eyebrows for thyroid health
If you notice an unusual lack of thickness in your eyebrows, it could be that you are suffering from an underactive thyroid, which means that your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones. You may need to speak to a doctor, especially if you are also gaining weight and feeling tired and/or depressed. A blood test should easily confirm this problem. If left untreated, it might lead to heart disease, the appearance of goiters, pregnancy complications and other health issues.
5. Watch your stomach for signs of Ovarian cancer
Bloating in your stomach area can have a range of different causes, including menstruation, intolerance to dairy products, eating too fast, constipation, medical side-effects, and a typically common assumption - weight gain. However, did you know this could also be the cause of very serious health conditions? Ovarian cancer is one of them, and its symptoms also include nausea and persistent pain or cramps in the stomach or back. Speak to a doctor if you experience these in a severe way so you can treat it in its early stages. Reduce general stomach bloating by eating more slowly, consuming less carbonated drinks, and avoiding chewing gum and drinking through straws.
6. Check your breathing by doing some step-ups
Have you been feeling more tired than usual after climbing up a flight of stairs? This can also be directly connected to your health. Doing some exercise can both act as a test for yourself and also as a practice. Step-ups are mostly recommended because they elevate the heart rate and hence our breathing. For this exercise, you must find a relatively high step (not higher than your hips) and step up and down. Try doing 70 of these in three minutes and then put your fingers on your pulse to check it. If it’s over 100 and you’re still out of breath 10 minutes after the exercise, then you need to consider exercising more frequently. Lack of exercise can lead to serious diseases such as obesity, breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even early death.
7. Calculate the time you spend sitting down daily
As we become more technology-dependent, we are adopting more of a sedentary lifestyle. According to the US Women’s Health Study, women over 50 who sit for 11 hours a day reduce their life expectancy by 9 years! The consequences for a sedentary lifestyle can be very serious, including deep vein thrombosis, colon cancer, osteoporosis, kidney stones and a Spinal disc herniation (slipped disc). Improve your lifestyle by adding regular physical activity to your routine, at least 2.5 hours a week.
8. Look out for temperature changes in your body
Care for your blood vessels' health and circulation by observing the temperature changes in your body, especially in extreme temperature conditions. Excess heat from the sun, stress, and eating very spicy food may cause flushing in the face – particularly redness in the cheeks and nose. This means that the blood vessels are dilating and this may not be a healthy sign, especially if you are a woman between 30 and 55. Cold conditions can be just as dangerous to our body if we aren’t prepared for them – frequently experiencing cold feet or hands indicates lack of circulation, which could lead to Raynaud’s disease (suffering from excessively reduced blood flow). So, make sure to take the necessary precautions before this becomes a risk!
9. Inspect your nipples for signs of breast cancer
A well-known pointer that calls for a professional body check-up is having abnormalities in your nipples. Be on the look-out for inward-facing nipples as this could be a typical sign of breast cancer. If your nipples show any eczema, discharge or bloodstains, take action. Make sure to look out for these signs regularly when showering and find time to do regular exercise, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and drink less alcohol to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer.
10. Examine your nails to look out for fungal infections
It is rather easy for toenails to get an infection and one of the obvious symptoms of this event is when the nail becomes discolored, thickens, or becomes brittle, causing discomfort in your feet. Keep your feet safe from this by checking them regularly, keeping them clean and dry from excess sweat due to the heat, using shoes that are just right for your feet and not too old, not trimming or picking the skin around the toenails, and avoid walking barefoot in public places. If you do suffer from an infected toenail, seek medical assistance and use antifungal spray or powder to treat it.