Your Feet: Be alert for these warning signs
"You can detect everything from diabetes to nutritional deficiencies just by examining the feet," says Jane Andersen, DPM, president of the American Association of Women Podiatrists and a spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association.
The lowly left and right provide plenty of insightful data: Together they contain a quarter of the body's bones, and each foot also has 33 joints; 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments; and countless nerves and blood vessels that link all the way to the heart, spine and brain.
Unresolved foot problems can have unexpected consequences. Untreated pain often leads a person to move less and gain weight, for example, or to shift balance in unnatural ways, increasing the chance of falling and breaking a bone.
Your Eyes: What are the symptoms of 'computer vision syndrome'?
Looking someone straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty—but the eyes can tell you about cholesterol, liver disease or diabetes, if you know what to look for.
"The eye is a unique window into health," says ophthalmologist Andrew Iwach, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and executive director of the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco. "It's the only place in the body where, without surgery, we can look in and see veins, arteries and a nerve [the optic nerve]."
The eyes' transparency explains why common eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration can be detected early with regular eye exams.
"Unfortunately, people get busy and delay not only eye exams but regular physicals. That's why eye doctors sometimes discover other issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure," Iwach says. Especially vulnerable, he says: People like caregivers, who worry about others around them while neglecting care for themselves.
Your Skin: Keep an eye out for these dermatologic oddities
If skin were merely a sausage casing for the rest of you, it wouldn't be nearly so useful. An organ itself (your body's largest in terms of both weight and surface area), skin protects against invasive bacteria, regulates body temperature and picks up information from the stimulation of touch, pressure, pain, heat and cold. Little wonder, then, that when there's something wrong with you on the inside, your skin sometimes sends up the first warning flare.
"Diabetes, for example, is generally a silent disease, but it can lead to distinct changes to the skin. So the skin may in fact be the first indicator of what's happening," notes dermatologist Amy Newburger, M.D., of Scarsdale, N.Y., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.
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