Whenever something isn’t quite right wellness-wise, your body will often try to send you a signal that a health hazard may be brewing beneath the surface. When something unusual happens, consider it an alert that something isn’t right and get it addressed. Here, some signs it’s time for you to get to the damn doctor.
- SWOLLEN LEGS
Are your lower extremities looking especially swole (and not because you’ve been deadlifting)? This is called edema, and it could be a marker of a thyroid issue (or even something more serious with your heart or kidneys), Rohr says. It’s important to see your health-care provider, because while thyroid disorders can be kept under control, the treatment methods range from going on medication to starting a specialized exercise routine.
- LONG RING FINGERS
Wait, so your body is giving you health intel through the length of your fingers? Possibly, according to a study conducted by the University of Nottingham. The research found that if your ring finger is longer than your index finger, it could be a sign that you’re at a greater risk for osteoarthritis, especially in the knees. Study authors couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why.
Here’s the thing: Keep up with a regular exercise routine, and maintain a healthy weight, and you can push back against any potential predispositions. But still talk to your doctor (obviously).
- CRAVINGS FOR ICE
If you’re always heading for the freezer and bypassing the cookie dough frozen yogurt — for, uh, ice — that may mean you have an iron deficiency, Rohr says. Why? People who suffer from a serious lack of iron often experience pica — a disorder that causes you to crave things with no nutritional value, specifically ice (although sometimes people reach for non-food items, like dirt or paper).
Your doc will have the best course of treatment, but adding iron-rich foods (red meat, leafy greens, iron-fortified cereals) into your diet will help, along with Vitamin C, which allows your body to better absorb the iron.
- WRINKLES IN WEIRD PLACES
It’s true: Beauty is only skin deep. But sometimes, what’s going outside your body could actually be an indicator of what’s going inside of it. Honestly, most wrinkles are likely just a sign of aging (womp), but there can be different reasons: high blood pressure. Research found that women with wrinkles in places typically not exposed to the sun, like the upper arms, tended to have hypertension. If that’s the case, it may be time to talk to your doctor about cutting back on the cocktails and salt.
- BAD BREATH
It might be time to move beyond popping a breath mint. Chronic bad breath can be a sign of gingivitis, Rohr says. When you don’t deal with it, gingivitis can turn into a more serious form of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Make sure you’re brushing and flossing to keep bad oral hygiene in check.
- DARK URINE
Wondering if pee the color of a dark IPA is a cryptic sign from your body that something isn’t right? Uh, yeah. It’s likely an indicator that you’re dehydrated. In that case, drink up! But the murky color may also be due to blood in your urine, which could signal a potential problem with your kidneys or liver, Rohr says. You need to talk to your doctor, but if you want to give your kidneys a health boost in the meantime, hydrate, focus on eating healthy, and exercise regularly.
- BLACK POOP
Ew, TMI, something you shouldn’t just flush and forget about — yes to all of the above. But according to Rohr, if your stool goes dark, it could be a sign of internal bleeding, often due to a stomach ulcer. Call it quits on the spicy food and give your doctor a ring ASAP.