What to Keep an Eye on!

Unfortunately, there is a wide array of health issues one can experience over a lifetime. Fortunately, there are certain things we can look out for that can indicate changes in our health status. Often, with health issues, the sooner we can diagnose and treat a condition, the better the end result. The following is some information that may help you prevent serious illness…

We all have experienced our share of aches and pains, but we need to keep in mind that pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Pain can be sharp or it can come in a dull, throbbing form, but ignoring chronic or constant pain can be problematic. Pain can stem from things as simple as overeating, to conditions that are more serious, such as endometriosis in women. 

Things in life tend to have a silver lining and so is the case with pain. Working with your doctor to determine the cause of recurring pain may – as in the instance of certain cancers and debilitating arthritis – slow progression. If an illness is severe enough, medical intervention can even prolong your life expectancy.

For instance, let’s take a look at back pain…Back pain can simply be caused by sleeping wrong or overexertion of back muscles. It can even come from wearing cheap shoes; or it could be a sign of something more serious. In fact, back pain can be one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer. You also want to remain wary of kidney pain, which could indicate kidney infection, disease or cancer. Our kidneys are located toward the back of the body, so kidney pain can mimic back pain.

Headaches, which are common and not serious, can be caused by tension, allergies, eye strain and even too much caffeine. However, in some cases, headaches can be the sign of something more serious and possibly require immediate medical attention. If your headache is accompanied by vomiting, confusion or slurred speech, please see a medical professional right away. In those cases, a headache could be a sign of a very serious condition, including a stroke, a brain tumor, infection and disease of the blood vessels.

Our eyes, although they may be the proverbial window to the soul, can also be good indicators of changes in our health. For example, vision changes could indicate the existence of a brain tumor. Cancers of the blood and skin, as well as high blood pressure can be detected during a detailed eye exam, and heart disease can sometimes be detected with a retina examination. Blood vessels in the retina leaking yellow fluid are a sign of diabetic retinopathy, which can appear before a person has even been diagnosed with diabetes. Talk about excellent serious illness prevention tools! Vitamin A deficiency, characterized by poor eye lubrication and night blindness, is the leading cause of blindness in children. Early detection of this condition is also an extremely valuable prevention tool.

Worried about your cholesterol? A yellow or blue ring around the cornea may be a sign of high cholesterol. A “curtain closing” over vision is a sign of a stroke; and a symptom of brain damage as a result of a stroke can come in the form of loss of peripheral vision.

Inflammation of arteries can cause blurred or double vision. Early detection of giant cell arteritis can prevent blindness and even death. Protruding eyeballs and retracting eyelids can be a thyroid disease indicator; while symptoms of lupus can include dry eyes and/or swelling of the white portion of the eye. Lyme disease can be diagnosed when inflammation of the optic nerve is detected. “Floaters” are also common at the onset of Lyme disease infection. Visible bleeding, which can result in vision loss, is an indication of vascular disease. Burst blood vessels on the surface of the eye or a detached retina are symptoms of sickle cell disease. Blurred vision and painful eye movement are symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis can inflame the whites of the eye, causing dry eyes and eye pain.

Although coughing can accompany an ordinary cold, we also need to keep our eye on coughs because, if a cough lingers for weeks, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as bronchitis or asthma. Coughing up blood can be a sign of lung cancer or heart failure.

Weird moles and skin abnormalities can actually be skin cancer, so we really need to remain aware of any changes to the skin. Melanoma can appear in something as seemingly innocuous as a mole that has changed shape or color. A reappearing scab or itchy mole can also be signs of melanoma. 

A lot of children get bloody noses, but as we get older bloody noses are typically less common and can even be indicators of certain health issues. A bloody nose could be a sign of a bleeding disorder, nasal polyps or another type of obstruction such as a tumor, so it is a good idea to see a doctor if you suffer from recurring bloody noses. Additionally, if you experience a bloody nose as a direct result of trauma and your nose bleeds profusely and for a considerable period of time, you should immediately seek medical attention.

You also need to keep an eye on your poop. Yes, I just went there. Our stools are actually excellent health indicators. One of the best ways to determine what we have going on in our bodies is by observing the color of our stools. Black stools can indicate bleeding that has taken place in the upper digestive tract. Dark brown stools can be a sign of too much salt and/or not ingesting enough vegetables. With the intake of too much sugar, stools can turn a greenish color; and pale, grayish stools could mean gallbladder or liver problems. Red blood means the problem is usually located near the end of the digestive tract and can indicate something less serious such as hemorrhoids. 

Mucous, blood covered stools can be a sign of Crohn’s disease or colitis. Thin stools may be telling us that we have a polyp or some other obstruction narrowing the passageway for excretion.  Floating stools producing an oily film at the top of the toilet water can be an indication that food nutrients are not being properly absorbed. Particularly foul smelling stools could be a sign that too many animal proteins have been consumed. Constipation and small, hard stools are a sign that too many dry foods are being consumed. Consuming the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables may very possibly remedy that “situation”.