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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

30 Seconds to a Healthier You

These quick DIY body scans just might save your life.

Have 30 seconds? That’s all it takes to safeguard your health. Doing a quick visual exam of certain body parts can reveal easy-to-miss signs of serious conditions long before any other symptoms appear. Here’s how to recognize important health clues hiding in plain sight -- and what to do if you find one.

Suspicious Sign: Red Gums

Rosy gums could be a sign of periodontal (gum) disease -- even if there are no other signs. Other red flag: gums that bleed easily, persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth, gums that seem to be receding from your teeth, any change in your bite or the way teeth fit together.

What to Do: See your dentist ASAP! Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to heart disease.

Suspicious Sign: Puffy Fingers

Do your rings feel tighter? Fluid retention can be a sign of hypothyroidism (a sluggish thyroid gland) -- especially if it doesn’t go away with your period. Other symptoms: fatigue, forgetfulness, constipation, rough skin, brittle or thinning hair, brittle nails, and new sensitivity to cold.

What to Do: Don’t ignore these symptoms; thyroid problems are serious. See your doctor immediately if symptoms persist.

Suspicious Sign: Dry, Cracked Lips

When lips become severely chapped, chances are that you are dehydrated or lick them too much. It could also signal an overdose of vitamin A. It’s possible to get several times the RDA from your multi and other sources.

What to Do:
Check all supplement bottles to make sure you’re not getting more than 5,000 IU daily total. Soon after you stop overdosing, your lips and skin should return to normal.

Suspicious Sign: Thickened or Pitted Breast Skin

If any area looks thick or pitted (like an orange skin), red, bruised or swollen, itches or feels warm, it could be inflammatory breast cancer, a fast-spreading, lump-less version.

What to Do: See your gynecologist immediately.

Suspicious Sign: Yellow Eyelid Bumps

These painless lumps are actually cholesterol deposits and could be your first indication that your levels are unhealthy.

What to Do:
Go to your doctor for a blood test. She might advise at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to bring it down before prescribing medication. The bumps will shrink as your cholesterol does, but you’ll need to visit a dermatologist to remove them completely by laser or chemical peel.

Suspicious Sign: A Red or White Spot Inside Your Mouth

Open wide, say ahhh and examine the inside of your mouth, your tongue and the underside of your tongue for a red or white spot. It could be a canker sore, irritation from a rough tooth, or even a pizza burn. But if the spot -- painful or not -- lasts for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of oral cancer.

What to Do: Immediately visit your dentist, who is trained to spot oral cancers.

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