Your 10-minute DIY health check
Spot the health signals your body is trying to send you with this guide to staying in tip-top condition. 
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Us moms barely have time to get everyone dressed and out the door on time to make the first school bell (sans yoghurt stains), let alone make it to the doctor for a regular check-up.

But staying on top of your health is important, not just to catch anything that may be going wrong before it gets serious, but also for your longevity and overall feeling of well-being. So how to stay on top of your health? Take a look in the mirror.

The body knows 

More than performing the multitude of processes that keeps you in one piece throughout the day, your body also gives you clear warning signs when things are starting to go wrong. All you need to do is look for the clues it’s showing you.

Doctors agree that performing small health checks on a regular monthly basis can make all the difference when it comes to nipping diseases or health issues in the bud. Minor complaints that are easy to ignore, such as brittle nails or dry lips, can be indications of more serious health problems.

If you find something on your body that you’re not sure of, always have it checked out by your doctor to ensure that if there is something going on, you catch it early enough to do something about it.

Fingertips

What to look for:

Do yours go numb quickly in cold weather? If they also turn from white to blue and then red, you could have Raynaud's syndrome, a condition affecting blood supply. 

What to do:

"See your GP as it's occasionally linked with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus," says Dr Cannon. "But in the most cases it can be managed by wearing gloves. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, also helps circulation."

Nails 

What to look for:

Next time you paint your nails, look for grooves. "These are called Beau's lines and could mean you need more protein and zinc in your diet," says registered dietician Priya Tew. 

What to do:

"Many women are cutting down on red meat and dairy, which are excellent sources of protein and zinc and are an important part of a balanced diet," she says. "So boost your intake of these food groups."

Fingers

What to look for:

If your fingers are often puffy, it may indicate low thyroid function, "This is especially common in women," says GP Dr Radha Modgil.

What to do:

"Your GP can do a blood test and prescribe hormone replacement tablets if necessary," she continues. "Once diagnosed, you could also try eating more low-fat dairy, shellfish and soy sauce, as these are high in iodine, which can enhance thyroid function."

Eyes

What to look for:

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but they also reveal a great deal about your health. A white or grey ring around the outer edge of the iris can indicate that your blood cholesterol level is higher than it should be. “This occurs when fat deposits around the cornea,” says GP Dr Ellie Cannon.

What to do:

“A blood test will reveal if you have high cholesterol. In some cases, this can be improved by following a low-fat diet. But if you have a cholesterol ring, it’s likely the problem is hereditary and will only respond to medication,” she adds.

Earlobes

What to look for:

A creased earlobe may mean that you spend too much time on the phone. Findings from the Montreal Heart Institute also indicate that a diagonal crease pointing downwards to your shoulder could be an early warning sign of heart disease.

What to do:

Talk to your GP and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked out. It’s also important to get moving. Aim to do at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise, like fast walking or cycling, every week to keep your heart healthy.

Nose

What to look for:

You may think you have low immunity, but check to see if you have a horizontal crease just below the bridge of your nose. This is caused by what’s known as an “allergic salute”. It’s a sign that you’re frequently blowing your nose, which is often an indication that you’re suffering from an allergy rather than just frequent colds, according to GP Dr Ellie Cannon.

What to do:

“Your GP can run tests to find out what you’re allergic to, and most allergies respond well to a daily antihistamine or steroid nasal spray,” she says.

Lips

What to look for:

It’s not unusual to suffer from chapped lips in the winter, but painful cracks or splits at the corners of your mouth can be a sign that you are deficient in nutrients, including vitamin B, iron and zinc, says GP Dr Radha Modgil.

What to do:

“Try to follow a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fresh, unprocessed food,” she advises. “If there’s no improvement, talk to your GP about being tested for coeliac disease, which can be managed with a B12 supplement and gluten free diet.”

Tongue

What to look for:

Before brushing your teeth, stick your tongue out and have a look at it in the mirror. “A white coating can be indicative of a fungal infection in the body,” says pharmacist Shabir Daya.

What to do:

Taking a good probiotic supplement may help. “This helps to correct the balance of bacteria in the gut and also help restore the micro-flora,” explains Shabir.

Teeth

What to look for:

If your teeth look sharper or smaller than they used to, you may be grinding them at night. “Signs include indentations on your tongue or slightly worn-down teeth,” says professor Damien Walmsley of the British Dental Association.

What to do: 

“Regular dental check-ups will help pick up any problems and, if tooth grinding is an issue, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent further wear of the tooth surface,” he points out.

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