Correctly interpret body signals

If something is wrong with our health, our body often sends warning signals. For example, stomach problems or headaches can be caused by stress or a great deal of mental stress. But external signs such as pale skin,  tongue coating , torn corners of the mouth, dark circles under the eyes or discolored fingernails can also be indications of diseases or deficiency symptoms. We explain how to correctly interpret these warning signals from your body.

1. Torn corners of the mouth as a warning sign

Torn corners of the mouth (rhagades) manifest themselves as small inflammations in the mouth, which often hurt when speaking and burn with every touch. They are an indication that the skin is not elastic enough.

These fissures can be caused by dry lips and the associated habit of constantly licking the lips with the tongue, which causes the skin to dry out and crack. Many people unconsciously lick their lips when they are stressed – the constant moisture cracks the corners of their mouths.

Viruses, bacteria or fungi, such as herpes simplex or streptococci, are also possible causes of the inflamed corners of the mouth. In addition, iron deficiency or a lack of vitamin B2, vitamin B12 or vitamin E can also cause the symptoms.

If the symptoms occur again and again, you should have the cause clarified by a doctor. Because diseases such as  diabetes , neurodermatitis, psoriasis or  allergies  can also be the cause of the symptoms.

By  the way  , honey is a good home remedy  for cracked corners of the mouth , because it makes the lips supple and at the same time has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect. Dabbing with sage tea or using creams with urea, dexpanthenol or  zinc  can also help against small cracks in the corners of the mouth.

2. Tongue coating as an indication of disease

If our tongue is healthy, it is pale pink and usually shows a thin whitish coating that comes from leftover food and harmless germs. However, with a strong coating of the tongue, the body can express the presence of a disease.

Depending on the  color of the tongue coating  , the following triggers may be present:

  • white: common cold, gastrointestinal disease, oral thrush, or pancreatic disease
  • yellowish: fungal infections or disorders of the bile and liver
  • red: scarlet fever (raspberry tongue), vitamin B12 deficiency,  tongue inflammation  or liver disease
  • brown: intestinal diseases, kidney problems
  • grey: iron deficiency or anemia
  • black (hairy tongue): disturbed oral flora as a side effect of  antibiotics , fungal or bacterial infections or leukemia
  • blue: lung diseases

In addition to the color of the tongue coating, the tongue can also provide other indications of the state of health. For example, a  cracked, dry or swollen tongue  can indicate various diseases.

3. Dark circles and swollen eyelids

We often associate dark circles and thick eyelids with lack of sleep or excessive consumption of alcohol or cigarettes. In fact, however, an unhealthy lifestyle does not always have to be behind the appearances.

On the one hand, dark circles under the eyes  are not uncommon, especially in light-skinned people, since the blood vessels shimmer through under the light-colored skin. On the other hand, they can also be signs of a nutrient deficiency (iron, zinc or vitamin K) or an insufficient supply of oxygen to the blood (e.g. if the eyes are overstrained by too much computer work) as well as diseases of the liver, kidneys and metabolism. Dehydration can also cause temporary dark circles under the eyes.

Swelling of the eyes  can also  indicate a serious illness: Swelling of the lower eyelids in particular is an indication of allergies, but also of  high blood pressure , the onset of  shinglesheart failure  or kidney disease. Swollen eyelids can also be caused by a cold, eye infections or wearing contact lenses for too long.

4. Paleness can have many causes

Everyone has their own skin colour, some are naturally lighter skinned than others. But a  sudden change in  this color can be an indication that something is wrong with the body. For example, pale, gray skin with pale lips is a well-known sign of physical discomfort. A sallow complexion with a gray complexion can therefore not only be an indication of too little sun.

Temporary paleness  can indicate  circulatory problems , infections or low blood sugar (e.g. in diabetes). However, if the pallor lasts longer  and is also  accompanied by pale mucous membranes  , this is a warning sign of more serious problems. Possible causes of pale skin include:

  • Anemia, for example due to a lack of iron,  folic acid  or vitamin B12 or due to kidney failure or leukemia
  • low blood pressure (hypotension) or cardiovascular problems
  • Underactive thyroid  (hypothyroidism)
  • unnoticed bleeding in the body, such as from a stomach ulcer
  • in heavy smokers: so-called “smoker’s skin” due to a lack of oxygen supply

5. Yellowish skin and yellow eyes

If you look in the mirror and see that your skin and the otherwise white part of your eyes have turned yellow, you should seek medical help. Because yellowish skin, especially in connection with yellow eyes, can be an indication of  jaundice  (icterus). The discoloration occurs when there is an increased level of bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells) in the body.

Possible causes of these symptoms include:

  • Liver disease (e.g. due to liver inflammation,  liver cirrhosis  or  hepatitis B infection )
  • Diseases of the gallbladder (e.g. due to a gallstone or bile stasis due to inflammation)
  • Blood disorders (e.g. as a result of poisoning)

In Meulengracht’s disease (Gilbert’s syndrome), a relatively common inherited disorder of hemoglobin breakdown, jaundice can also occur as a result of stress or fasting. Usually, this type of jaundice is harmless and requires no further treatment.

6. Thin hair and hair loss

Dull, brittle hair and hair loss can occur as a result of constant stress or simply hereditary. Other possible reasons for the complaints include:

  • hypothyroidism
  • hormonal causes (e.g. menopause or pregnancy)
  • Nutrient deficiencies (zinc, iron,  biotin , magnesium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B12, or protein)
  • Metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus)
  • Poisoning and severe infections
  • side effect of medication
  • Autoimmunreaktion des Körpers (bei kreisrundem Haarausfall)
  • bei vernarbendem Haarausfall: Pilzerkrankungen und bakterielle Infektionen

In vielen dieser Fälle lässt sich der Haarausfall in den Griff kriegen, sobald man die genauen Ursachen kennt.

7. Farbe der Fingernägel

Sind die Fingernägel verfärbt, kann dies ganz unterschiedliche Ursachen haben. So können etwa weiße Flecken auch die harmlose Folge einer Verletzung der Nagelwurzel sein (beispielsweise durch eine etwas zu grobe Maniküre) und von selbst herauswachsen. Dahingegen sind querverlaufende weiße Streifen (sogenannte Mees-Streifen) möglicherweise die Folge von Stress, einer fiebrigen Erkrankung, einer Stoffwechselstörung oder einer Vergiftung.

Ist der komplette Nagel verfärbt, kommen unter anderem folgende Ursachen in Betracht:

  • Kontakt mit Chemikalien wie Putzmitteln oder Nagellack
  • Vitaminmangel
  • Nebenwirkung von Medikamenten
  • Erkrankungen der Haut, des Stoffwechsels, des Herzens oder der Nieren
  • Vergiftungen

Außerdem lässt die Farbe der Verfärbung Rückschlüsse auf deren Ursache zu. So können folgende Farben beispielsweise diese Ursachen haben:

  • schwarz: Blutergüsse infolge einer Quetschung
  • bräunliche oder blauschwarze Flecken: Muttermale, aber auch Hautkrebs
  • gelblich: Nikotinkonsum, Verfärbung durch Chemikalien (Nagellack), Atemwegserkrankungen, Gelbsucht oder Leberprobleme
  • grünlich: Befall mit Bakterien (Chloronychie)
  • weißlich und trüb (Milchglasnägel): Leberzirrhose oder entzündliche Darmerkrankungen

Daneben ist Nagelpilz eine häufige Ursache für Verfärbungen der Nägel.

8. Form der Fingernägel

Weisen die Fingernägel Rillen auf, ist das nicht unbedingt ein Grund zur Besorgnis. Denn feine Längsrillen sind in der Regel harmlos. Sie können eine Alterserscheinung oder ein Zeichen von Flüssigkeitsmangel sein.

Bei dicken, vereinzelten Längsrillen ist es allerdings ratsam, ärztliche Hilfe zu suchen, denn diese Rillen können Anzeichen eines Nageltumors sein. Querrillen, auch als Beau-Linien oder Beau-Reil-Furchen bezeichnet, sind oft die Folge einer schweren Erkrankung, zum Beispiel eines akuten Infekts, können aber auch durch einen Zinkmangel verursacht werden.

If the fingernails curve upwards (watch glass nails), this can indicate anemia and diseases of the liver and lungs. Inwardly curved nails (spoon nails), for example, can indicate a niacin or iron deficiency, but circulatory disorders or endocrine diseases can also be the cause.

In addition to thyroid disease, brittle fingernails  can also be caused by a lack of various minerals or vitamins. Calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A and vitamins from the B group, especially biotin, should be mentioned in particular. Flaking fingernails are also a signal from the body that minerals or vitamins are missing.

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