Signs You’re Neglecting Your Health
We often tell our patients that looking good and feeling good are frequently intertwined. Oftentimes there are external indicators of internal health, with underlying issues ranging from vitamin deficiencies to more concerning medical conditions.
Some of the most common indicators are your skin and hair, your energy levels and your breath. Below, we have outlined what these indicators are, and what they can mean for your health.
Skin and Hair Dullness
Your skin is a good reflection of your overall health, and is one of the fastest “cycling” organs of your body with a high rate of cellular turnover. Though they can also be affected by a variety of internal or environmental factors, dull or dry skin and hair are most likely indicators of a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in strengthening cell membranes and regulating cell turnover. A deficiency can slow down the natural exfoliation cycle, resulting in dryness and dandruff. Omega-3s act as natural moisturizers, revitalizing dry skin from the inside out to restore more radiant, hydrated skin. Omega-3 fatty acids also nourish hair follicles for stronger and shinier hair.
The best way to get omega-3s is from your diet – oily fish, nuts and leafy green vegetables are rich in both fatty acids and protein, two crucial nutrients needed to help stimulate the production of healthy skin. Since most of us don’t get enough omega-3s in our diets, it’s always a good idea to include a daily supplement.
Fatigue Along with Heaviness in the Legs
Fatigue is a silent but very accurate indicator that something is wrong, and is one of the most common complaints that doctors hear. Causes can range from hormonal, to stress, to malnutrition, and often the cause is a diagnosis of exclusion. Generalized fatigue along with feelings of fatigue, heaviness and swelling in the legs, may be an early sign of venous insufficiency and can be a pre-cursor to varicose veins.
Blood circulates through the body and the extremities via a system of arteries and veins. In order to facilitate the return trip of blood towards the heart, veins have a series of one-way valves. If these valves begin to fail, they allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the veins of the lower leg, leading to possible aching and swelling. If the elasticity in the vein wall weakens, the vein distends, and the valve leaflets can no longer function properly. This increased blood pressure causes can cause symptoms of fatigue and pain well before veins begin to bulge or swell, and can often manifest as an overall feeling of fatigue as well.
Though simple solutions include the use of support hose or compression stockings and minimizing prolonged periods of sitting or standing, proper diagnosis and treatment can prevent further damage and reverse these symptoms. Without treatment, the increased pressure within the legs can progress to cause additional valve failure causing the varicose veins to ‘grow’ up or down the leg, skin color changes, and in its worst case, non-healing venous ulcers.
Though most commonly related to diet and oral hygiene habits, this can also be due to a more serious underlying medical condition. Foul smelling breath can be an indicator of anything from stomach ulcers to cancer, and everything in between including stress and gum disease. Two of the more serious silent issues are diabetes and liver disease.
Diabetics suffer from inadequate insulin production which leads the body to burn fat, this condition, known as ketoacidosis, leads to an increase in ketones. These ketones are acidic and are eliminated by the body through the urine and through the lungs, leaving the person with a distinct and foul smelling breath. Liver disease can also present through the breath, with a particular type of breath called fetor hepaticus. This musty smelling breath has been found to be an indicator of various forms of liver disease orders, often before they manifest through other symptoms, and is more likely to occur if you drink a lot of alcohol.
On the most basic level, bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene, which in and of itself can lead to serious issues and infections that could affect other places in the body – particularly the heart. Taking care of your dental health will help protect your overall health.
It is important to pay attention to your body and to be aware of any unpleasant changes. You should always feel comfortable discussing new symptoms or lingering concerns with your doctor.