“Virtually every aspect of human physiology has regulatory elements, feedback loops, and developmental components that require thousands of interacting genes …the human body represents an irreducibly complex system on a cellular and organ/system basis.” – Dr. Joseph Kuhn
Sometimes health can be a strange thing. We may make the utmost effort to eat well, exercise, and get proper sleep. But our bodies, being the complex systems they are, sometimes throw us a curveball.
We discuss 11 signs you may not be healthy – even if everything else seems to be going right. We’ll also discuss some potential fixes for your ills.
11 of the more subtle signs of health gone amiss:
We’ve all felt – and dreaded – the after-meal bloat. Maybe you wolfed your food down a little too fast. Bloat is the accumulation of gas in the digestive tract, and, if these symptoms become chronic, may indicate an underlying health problem.
Fix: Try some ginger to speed up digestion or sip on some chamomile tea, which helps expel gas buildup.
2. Chronic Fatigue
Fatigue can be caused by any number of health issues. Usually, short-term fatigue is indicative of overwork, lack of sleep, and stress. Chronic fatigue, on the other hand, is a different story.
Fix: Examine your lifestyle and sleep habits (be honest with yourself). Schedule your day to include wind-down before bed (30 minutes); abstain from alcohol and nicotine, and practice good sleep hygiene. If nothing helps, a doctors visit is in order.
Sleep is vital for replenishing our body and brain’s resources. We just can not function without adequate sleep – nor should we try. Insomnia is defined as “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or suffering from nonrestorative sleep, for at least one month.”
Fix: Given the potential health consequences of insomnia – and any underlying health issues – it is necessary to see a licensed physician.
4. Bad Breath
A ton of things can cause bad breath: food, tobacco, bad hygiene, dry mouth, medications, and others. However, bad breath can be caused by other stuff too.
Fix: If good oral hygiene doesn’t help (brush twice, floss once daily; use tongue scraper; visit dentist), then it’s necessary to see a doctor. This is to rule our liver and kidney diseases.
An occasional headache is usually nothing to fear. We all get ‘em; we all hate ‘em. But if your headaches are getting more severe or frequent – especially if accompanied by other symptoms – it may be a time to see a doctor.
Fix: Drinking plenty of water, getting adequate sleep, and practicing eye health (yes, there is such thing!) are the best things you can do. Continuing neurological symptoms aren’t something to toy around with. Get to a doctor to exclude anything serious.
6. Weird-looking nails
As it turns out, how our nails look can reveal a lot about our health. Nails are an extension of the skin and require plenty of nutrients to stay healthy. Nails that look off-color (especially yellow) or brittle warrant a closer look.
Fix: Nails need plenty of nutrients. Make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet and drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily. Nail fungus is self-treatable, but deteriorating nail health may need a dermatologist’s opinion.
7. Low sex drive
Like other things on this list, a low libido can be caused by many things. Lifestyle and relationship factors, emotional and physical well-being, and other issues can suppress our desire for sex. Prescription medications are notorious for causing low libido.
Fix: Evaluate all of the factors listed above. Consider any medications you take and research any potential side effects and drug interactions (if taking additional prescription drugs, OTC medicines, or supplements.) Consult with your doctor before discontinuing a prescribed medication.
8. Irregular bowel movements
Regular bowel movements (BMs) are critical to overall health. The proper range for BMs is three per day to three per week (dependent on diet, physical makeup, exercise habits, etc.) Having to push or strain to move your bowels could be a warning sign.
Fix: Look at your diet and hydration habits. Ensure that your fiber intake is adequate – around 30-38 grams daily for men and 21-25 grams daily for women. If you continue to experience problems, seek advice from a dietitian, nutritionist, or MD.
9. Rapid hair loss
Loss of hair is a normal process; one that is influenced by your genes and, to a lesser extent, your lifestyle. However, hair loss is – in most instances – a gradual occurrence. Rapid and sudden hair loss should be looked at, as there may be some underlying medical cause.
Fix: As stated, gradual hair loss is usually normal and harmless. If you seem to be shedding hair at a rapid pace, follow up with your doctor to exclude any other medical cause.
10. Muscle cramping
Nutrient deficiencies and muscle overextension are, by far, the most common reasons for cramping in the muscles. Other causes of muscle cramps include inactive lifestyle, inadequate blood supply, or straining.
Fix: First, ensure that you’re getting plenty of water throughout the day. Eat a well-balanced diet and engage in moderate physical activity. See a doctor if you experience severe discomfort, swelling or redness of the skin, or other symptoms.
11. Fluctuating weight
Most of us pack on a few pounds as we age, only to lose it, then gain it back again. This is a natural byproduct of a slowing metabolism (yay!) However, excessive weight gain or loss may very well be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Fix: You will notice the sudden gain or loss of weight. Rapid weight gain/loss is one medical condition you shouldn’t speculate about, as it could be indicative of a serious underlying condition. Get a doctor’s opinion.