Signs from your body
Maybe you’re losing more hair or gaining some extra weight. Perhaps you’re always tired or your partner says you snore. There are probably harmless reasons for these everyday happenings. But maybe there’s something more serious going on. From gassiness to sleepiness, muscle cramps to weirdly coloured nails, here’s a look at some hidden signs you might not be as healthy as you think.
Just because you follow doctor’s orders – you eat your greens, choose organic when you can, exercise regularly, and get eight hours of sleep each night (err, most nights) – doesn’t mean that your health is in the clear. You may think your post-dinner bloat is totally normal, but sometimes a subtle symptom like that can signal a more serious health issue.
Simple reasons for bloating include constipation, overeating, or reflux. More serious causes include infection, inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and some medications.
“When you eat too much, or you eat food you’re not supposed to eat, you’ll have temporary discomfort, and you might not feel good for 20 or 30 minutes,” says Dr Tasneem Bhatia. “But then it usually dissipates, as the digestive system takes over.
“A one-time thing is easy to ignore as long as the pain isn’t lasting,” says Dr Bhatia. But “if it happens more than three times, or if the pain lasts more than 12 to 24 hours, you need to be examined by a physician.”
Snoring happens when air can’t move freely through your mouth and nose as you sleep – the muscles in your throat relax and your tongue can slip back in your throat – and can be caused by adenoids, nasal polyps, or even just a stuffy nose. If you’re overweight or have had a lot to drink, you’re more likely to snore.
“Snoring can also be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea,” says Dr Albert Wu, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. That’s when your upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly while you sleep, causing you to partially or completely stop breathing for a few seconds. “The resulting disruption of sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, crankiness, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and heart conditions.”
How to know if your snoring is cause for concern?
“If your partner notices that you stop breathing for long periods of time, you should consult a specialist,” says Dr Wu. “Treatments for simple snoring include losing weight, treatment for allergies, sleeping on your side instead of your back, and avoiding alcohol before bedtime. If snoring is caused by sleep apnoea there are dental mouthpieces that keep your airway open, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks that direct pressurised air to keep your airway open during sleep.”