If you think all health checks involve getting poked, prodded and some level of disrobing, think again. There are some simple ways to check your health by yourself at home.
While health starts on the inside, experts can do ‘eye-ball’ health assessments by looking at our skin, eyes, mouth and nails. Here’s a quick guide of what to look for next time you’re looking in the mirror.
Have you ever noticed that healthy people have a kind of glow? That’s because skin is a great indicator of what’s going on below the surface.
Dull and lifeless skin
If your skin is looking dull and lifeless, you may be dehydrated. Keep a water bottle on hand to help you sip your way to eight glasses of fluid each day.
Breakouts and congested skin can hint that your digestive health is not running smoothly. Regular bowel movements are important for removing toxins and waste products and when you’re constipated these toxins hang around, leading to congested skin. Drinking enough water and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is the first step to clear skin. Taking a fibre supplement can be helpful if regular bowel movements are a struggle.
Breakouts may also signal a hormonal imbalance, or that you’re feeling stressed.
Acne and facial hair growth in females can indicate Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, (PCOS). If you are concerned, discuss this with your GP.
Skin colour and tone
If you’re looking pale and feeling tired (and it’s not due to a few late nights) you may be anaemic or deficient in iron, folate or B12. Other symptoms of anaemia include headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, sensitivity to cold and in some people, a red, sore and smooth tongue.
Yellow tinged skin is a trigger for your GP to check liver function.
Skin can turn orange if excessive amounts of orange vegetables (such as carrots or pumpkin) are eaten, as betacarotene (Vitamin A) accumulates in skin.
They’ve been called windows to the soul, but eyes can also give us hints about our health.
Pull down the lower eyelid. If it’s pale then you may be anaemic. Ask your GP to test your iron, folate and B12 levels.
Small waxy lumps in your eyelids (called xanthelasmas) can be caused by genetically high cholesterol levels (familial hypercholesterolemia). Your GP can check your cholesterol and advise you on the best way to manage this condition.
Taking a close look at your lips can be useful for diagnosing nutrient deficiencies.
Angular stomatitis (the red ‘cuts’ at the corner of the mouth) and cheilosis (dry, scaly lips, especially the corners) can indicate iron deficiency anaemia, inadequate riboflavin, niacin or pyridoxine deficiency.
Our nails offer a goldmine of health information.
Pale, brittle or spoon shaped nails suggest iron deficiency.
Pitting or rippled nails are often found in people with psoriasis.
Clubbed nails (where fingertips enlarge and nail curves over the end) are associated with low oxygen levels in the blood - related to underlying pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.
If the usually pink part of nail is half pink and half white, it can indicate renal or liver disease.
Being tuned in to your body’s internal cues and external clues puts you in the driver’s seat of your health. Taking notice, and taking action is the key to optimal health.