If you’ve had a heart attack, been diagnosed with cancer or are hospitalized with sky-high blood sugar levels, you know you’re sick. But our bodies often whisper warning signs of bad health long before we need to race to the emergency room with a life-threatening illness. If we ignore those whispers, our bodies start start screaming.
These are some warning signs that your body is whispering. Pay attention so you don’t have to deal with the screaming later, when you may be desperately sick.
You snore. Snoring is an early sign of sleep apnea, the sleep disorder characterized by obstruction in the airways that can increase your risk of pulmonary hypertension and subsequent heart failure.
You don’t sleep well. Cortisol levels should drop at night, which allows your body to recharge. But if you suffer from insomnia, it’s likely because your cortisol levels haven’t dropped as a result of too many stress responses in your body.
You stay tired. Yes, you could be worn out because you’re doing too much, but it might be because your thyroid isn’t functioning properly or your body is burning all your resources trying to protect you from infection, cancer or a whole host of other serious illnesses. Sometimes chronic fatigue is a sign you need to take a break. But it could signal something more troubling, so don’t dismiss it.
Your urine is dark yellow. When you’re well hydrated, your urine should be nearly clear. If your pee is dark yellow, you’re probably not drinking enough fluids. Caffeinated or alcoholic drinks are dehydrating, not hydrating, and sodas contain chemicals, so ease up on those. Try to stick to water, herbal or green tea, coconut water or green juice. Keep in mind that you also can keep hydrated with some foods.
You skin itches a lot. Sure, you might be experiencing a contact rash or have brushed up against poison ivy, but if you haven’t switched your detergent or gone hiking through the woods, excessive itchiness may be a sign you’re suffering from liver disease.
You move your bowels once a day—or less. Healthy bowels move every time you eat a meal. As food moves through your digestive tract, healthy bowels move to eliminate toxins and make room for new nutrition. When you’re constipated, toxins can seep through the lining of the bowel, enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation, which increases your risk for a number of health conditions.
You catch every cold and flu. We’re exposed to viruses and bacteria every day, but healthy people should be able to fight off most of these pathogens. If you’re that person who catches every cold that works its way through your office or who gets sick every time your kids do, your immune system may not be functioning at its peak. That can put you at risk of infectious diseases as well as life-threatening illnesses like cancer.
Your skin is prone to breakouts. If you have frequent outbreaks of acne, psoriasis, eczema or other rashes, your skin, the body’s largest organ of elimination, is trying to tell you something. It could be signaling that you have allergies or a gluten intolerance, but it’s just as likely a response to stress.
You’re always anxious. Is anxiety all in your head? It can be. Anxiety can start as a feeling in your mind that translates into the physiology of your body, predisposing you to diseases like heart disease. Sometimes, however, anxious feelings are the result of hyperthyroidism, hormone imbalances, adrenal tumors or other illnesses. If you are experiencing regular, unexplained anxiety, talk to your doctor.