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Face Symptoms - What Looking in the Mirror Can Tell You About Your Health

Updated on September 28, 2012

Health or illness can be found in the mirror

Health problems can be seen in the mirror, but maybe not as dramatically as this!
Health problems can be seen in the mirror, but maybe not as dramatically as this! | Source

Your face can tell you about an amazing number of health problems

We can detect a wide variety of health conditions by looking at our own faces in the mirror. I'll discuss how to spot anemia, high cholesterol, low magnesium and low B12, as well as possible problems with various organs and glands. As types of rashes are a topic all by themselves, I don't cover those here. However, I do cover a few causes of adult acne, and several other important health issues that you can discover simply by looking into the mirror.

A common condition that you can see in the mirror is anemia, or iron deficiency. If you pull down your lower eyelid, and the inside is pale, you should have your iron level checked. Facial symptoms can include:

1. inside of lower eyelid is pale
2. pale lips and skin
3. cracks at the corners of the lips

You will also probably have fatigue, with possible insomnia and leg cramps. An odd symptom that some people also have with anemia is that they like to eat a lot of ice or even other that things we don't normally eat, such as paper.

When you have anemia, it means that your blood isn't transporting the iron your body needs to keep you healthy. There can be a variety of causes. This condition is most common in women who are still having their periods, especially if those periods are heavy.

However, women who are past menopause and men can also be anemic. Anemia can sometimes indicate another serious health condition, such as undetected internal bleeding, so neither women nor men should ignore it.

In some types of anemia, the white of the eyes and the skin may have a slight yellowish cast. However, if the whites of your eyes have turned bright yellow, you need to see a doctor right away. This symptom indicates a different and very serious problem, that your liver function is badly impaired. Of course, when this happens, your skin will also have a yellow tone, but that is not as easily seen as it is in the whites of your eyes.

Have you ever wondered why your eyelid sometimes twitches? The condition actually has a name, myokymia. Many of us have it, and we don't seem to know what causes it.

The two most common causes of eyelid twitching are stress and lack of magnesium. If you're plagued by a twitching eyelid, try supplementing with magnesium to see if it solves the problem. Magnesium is essential for many bodily functions, and one is proper muscle action.

Another, much more rare, cause is multiple sclerosis. Of course, if you had that, you would have many other symptoms.

If you have an odd white ring around the colored part of your eye, that ring is made of cholesterol. You should get your cholesterol levels checked.

How to treat a sty in your eye

Cold sores can be easily shared

A cold sore is a painful nuisance and is also very contagious.
A cold sore is a painful nuisance and is also very contagious. | Source

From prematurely graying hair to adult acne, your symptoms talk to you in the mirror

Prematurely graying hair is an inherited trait in some families. However, if your family doesn't tend to gray early, your premature graying could be a symptom of B12 deficiency. If your B12 level is low enough to start prematurely graying your hair, you would also probably have fatigue and chronic diarrhea.

Dark circles under the eyes may very well indicate allergies. You can have this symptom without the swelling eyes, itchiness or runny nose that you would normally associate with allergies.

If your lips take on a bluish tone and you haven't done anything that would account for it, such as eating candy or blueberries, this color change is a sign of serious health problems with either your heart or your lungs. You should seek medical attention right away. It means that your blood is not carrying life-giving oxygen around your body.

Do you have adult acne? If so, especially if the outbreaks are along the jaw line or around the chin area, this may be accompanying irritable bowel syndrome. Or, if you're a woman, you may have cysts on your ovaries (polycystic ovary syndrome), or other possible hormonal imbalances. These conditions show up on the face with forms of acne.

If you have a problem with constipation and/or diarrhea (your digestion can even fluctuate between the two), and you also have acne, especially acne around the chin area or along the jaw line, the acne could actually be DH blisters. You can tell the difference, because they don't usually form a whitehead. They either act like a blister, with a clear discharge if they're broken, or, if they're deeper under more layers of the skin, they are painful and may itch, but never come to a "head". This means that you are gluten intolerant, whether or not lab results show that you have celiac disease.

Easily one percent of the population in the U.S. has celiac disease, and that percentage increases for people of Irish or Scottish descent. Some doctors are so lacking in education about the connection between DH blisters and celiac disease, that they will diagnose the blisters, but not know to have the patient eliminate gluten-bearing grains from his or her diet.

If you have this problem and the celiac testing was done, but you showed no antibodies, you should start the celiac diet anyway. The only available gluten antibody test available is notoriously lacking in sensitivity to the antibodies. Also, the test is often not properly performed by many labs. During a study, proven celiac blood samples were sent around the U.S. to medical labs. Over half of them returned a test result of zero on this proven positive sample.

In hypothyroidism the output of thyroid hormone is too low

The thyroid gland is located in the throat
The thyroid gland is located in the throat | Source

You can even see symptoms of low thyroid hormone in the mirror

Another common condition that we can sometimes see in the mirror is an under-active thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism. Low thyroid hormone levels are very common, especially in women. It's more common in women from their mid-30's and in men from their mid-50's. However, it's also not uncommon in younger people.

You may easily have a low thyroid hormone level without the following symptoms, but if you see these in the mirror, have your thyroid hormone level checked.

1. Brittle, thinning hair.
2. Loss or thinning of the outer third of your eyebrows
3. Puffy cheeks and/or eyes.
4. Dry skin
5. Pale lips

If you see some or all of these symptoms, you are probably also feeling constant fatigue or what you might think of an inability to get motivated. You may also, oddly enough, have trouble sleeping. Other possible symptoms include lack of concentration, increased hunger and weight gain.

Even if you, as either a woman or man in middle age think that you are losing your hair due to what's called "male pattern baldness", you should have a thyroid test that includes a TSH to eliminate an under-active thyroid gland as a contributing cause of hair loss. (If your doctor orders a thyroid test, and you are not required to fast before the test, the TSH test is not being included, and you'll need to specifically request that it be included. It is discussed below.)

My advice to all women, especially women over the age of 35, and to men, especially over the age of 55, is to get your thyroid hormone checked with every annual exam. If your doctor has checked your thyroid hormone levels, and has either given you a prescription for thyroid hormone, or has told you that your thyroid is fine, if you're still tired, hungry and/or having trouble concentrating, request the specific results of your lab test from your doctor's office. Look for the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level. If your level is over 2, you need more thyroid hormone replacement. A Harvard study several years ago showed that the TSH level for normal, healthy people is between 1 and 2. However, many doctors and laboratories label the TSH level as normal when it's as high as 4. (The higher the TSH level, the lower your thyroid hormone level, and the harder your body is working trying to stimulate the thyroid to produce more.)

You now have some good markers for looking in the mirror. If you can't afford to go to a doctor for any of these conditions, check your local community hospital for charity care, or see if there are any community programs in the area. If neither of those are helpful, start calling doctors in the area to see if any will accept you as a pro bono patient, or if any will barter for services. Are you a writer, an artist, or do you make beautiful quilts? Do you raise excellent houseplants and could maintain them in the doctor's office until they are used to caring for them? Do you have skills at giving parties or doing home repairs? Think of your talents and try to barter.

In some of the conditions above, you can investigate further on the internet and take supplements if you think that you are lacking in a vitamin or mineral. The B vitamins can be supplemented, because they are water soluble and excess will be eliminated by your kidneys. However, don't be excessive in any of the supplements you take.

(Oh, while I have a degree in health studies, I'm not a doctor, so please accept this information as one person communicating with another, not as a medical professional giving you instructions.)


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