Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Healthy Really Looks Like

White tongue? Blue fingers? Green pee?

Those seemingly random color changes are actually a mirror reflecting what's going on inside of you, and they can warn you that a problem's brewing. "Even with all of the high-tech equipment we have today, color is still a very valuable diagnostic tool," says Marc I. Leavey, M.D., a primary care physician with Mercy Health Services in Baltimore. "Looking at changes in skin and body fluids helps doctors identify many underlying conditions, just like healers did thousands of years ago."

Eyes - Whites should be bright white if you're fair or off-white to beige if you have dark skin. A yellow shade to the whites of your eyes points to jaundice, a sign your blood's overly saturated with bilirubin. This substance is created as old red blood cells are broken down by the liver, which then helps the bilirubin exit your body via stool. Bilirubin might stick around if your liver's having trouble doing its job (because of diseases like hepatitis) or if a blockage is preventing bile from traveling from the liver to the intestines. See your doctor immediately to figure out what's wrong.

If eyes are bright red in the white part of one eye and it doesn't hurt, and your vision is fine, it's a burst blood vessel. It should go away in a day or so. If it doesn't, see an opthalmologist -- you may have an infection or a rare condition such as glaucoma, a disease that affects the optic nerve and impairs your sight.

Tongue - Your tongue should be a rosy pink. White patches inside your tongue and cheeks means you probably have an oral yeast infection called thrush, which is easily remedied with a prescription medication. But since a white patch could be as harmless as a canker sore or as threatening as a cancerous lesion, you should have a doctor take a look at it if it's been in your mouth longer than two weeks. Black tongue? Bismuth-- the active ingredient in peptobismol, can blacken the tongue. Haven't taken any? Bacteria that pools on the tongue due to poor dental hygiene, diabetes or antibiotic use can darken it as well.

Pale pink to white lips - You could be anemic, meaning that you're low on iron, vitamin B12, or folate. There are many causes of anemia, though-- including heavy periods, fibroids, and even taking too much aspirin or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor to ID any underlying problems before trying to treat them yourself with supplements.

Source: Health Magazine

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