Rapid weight loss sounds great, right? Every diet promises it, most people want it. But fast isn’t necessarily safe. It may signal an underlying health concern, such as an endocrine problem, an intestinal virus, or worse. Some trainers will tell you not to step on the scale regularly because it’s not weight loss that signals a better, fitter body but rather your measurements. They’re right about that. But stepping on the scale at least once a week is one of the best quick do-it-yourself health checks you can perform. Here are a few more, as featured in Shape Magazine.
1. Check Your Teeth! Notice any new pains. Aching in your tempo-mandibular joint can signal loss of bone there, which could be an early sign of osteoporosis. Are your gums a healthy pink or looking a little pale? Pale gums could be a signal of anemia. A swollen or smooth tongue often goes along with that. Have a compunction to eat ice, too? Visit your doctor and ask about anemia – these are all signs. If you notice white lesions around your gums or on your inner cheek, these could be a sign of thrush, which is sometimes a side effect of certain prescription medications, but can also indicate diabetes or HIV. Look into this at your dentist’s office. Obviously if you lose a tooth you’re heading right to the dentist, but keep in mind that tooth loss could also point to kidney disease. Ask your dentist.
2. Check Your Skin! We know you’ve heard this before, but no one wants to hear it. But it bears repeating – DON’T GET A TAN. Coco Chanel knew how to look good, but she knew nothing about healthy skin. You should check your skin all over at least once a month for non-healing lesions or new moles, particularly ones that are not symmetrical. These are signs of melanomas. Use a mirror (or someone who’d like to see you naked) to inspect those hard-to-see areas. It can save your life, and be kind of fun if you use the right person.
3. Check Your Urine! Gross, you say! Necessary, we say. A number of health problems can be spotted early in urine. Some medications and lots of foods are to blame for odd-colored urine, but sometimes it’s a health issue. Darker than usual? You might be dehydrated.Or a liver or kidney disorder might be the culprit. Red or pink urine? If it’s recurring, and not just once, this could be a sign of urinary tract infections, enlarged prostate, cancerous and noncancerous tumors, kidney cysts, long-distance running, and kidney or bladder stones. Orange urine? Could be a bile duct or liver issue. Green urine? You’re probably experiencing pain as well because green urine usually indicates a urinary tract infection. Cloudy urine is another sign of a urinary tract infection, or maybe kidney stones. But if the strange appearance (or smell) disappears after a day, chances are it was food-related.
4. Check Your Weight! We already discussed weight loss, but what about rapid weight gain? Hyperthyroidism is a possible cause. You might also want to try a pregnancy test.
5. Check Your Home! Keep your eyes open for the green stuff. Not kale (good for you), but mold (bad for you). Mold can cause all sorts of health problems, from headaches and congestion, to respiratory irritation, asthma, or allergies. If you find mold, call in an expert. Find a mold testing service and take heed of their advice.
Overall, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you work out regularly you’re probably in pain most of the week, but if you start getting pains that don’t seem tied to any activity, check in with your doctor.