There are some illnesses that don’t knock you down. You may be up and about without knowing that you’re genuinely ill and need to slow down and take care of yourself. Health experts say nature makes us know that our body is crashing under ill health when it manifests certain telltale signs. Body parts such as the lips, tongue, eyes, palms, etc. sometimes warn us about our health.

Here are a few telltale signs that we need to be aware of.

Lips: Cracked, sore, pale

Human lips have been designed to speak. However, beyond lending voice to your intentions and desires, your lips also speak volumes about your health! Lips can become pale, cracked, plagued with cold sores, or swollen. Whichever way, the state of your lips will indicate your state of health, hence the need to recognise what’s going on in your body, health-wise, as your lips manifest it.

Family Doctor, Tunde Johnson, warns that if you’ve not been hit in the mouth and didn’t fall down from a commercial motorcycle, you should be genuinely concerned if you wake up with swollen lips.

He says this is because swollen lips might be indicative of Crohn’s disease — a type of inflammatory bowel disease that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Johnson explains, “This disease is caused by a combination of environmental, immune and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals; and it results in chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract.”

He adds that sometimes, when you eat foods that you’re allergic to, it may result in swollen lips. So, when your lips suddenly swell up, check it out with your doctor in order to prevent major health issue. Angular cheilitis (cracks on both sides of the mouth) is another telltale sign that all is not well. Johnson says this symptom is common among people who are anaemic; and that’s why, in extreme case of anaemia, the cracked surfaces are whitish, irritating to whoever looks at it.

He explains, “Angular cheilitis presents with sensitive sores at one or both corners of the mouth; and though it is not contagious like cold sores and fever blisters, nor spreads to other parts of the body, it can spread to the other side of the mouth fairly easily.” The physician warns that angular cheilitis might be indicative of iron deficiency. “Deficiencies of iron and various B vitamins account for as many as 25 per cent of cases of angular cheilitis, hence the need to eat balanced diet always; and to also treat any infection as appropriate,” the doctor says.

He notes that iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia worldwide, being a deficiency of red blood cells that can occur either through the reduced production or an increased loss of red blood cells. “To produce red blood cells, three essential elements must be present: iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Hence, iron deficiency anaemia is anaemia caused by the lack of iron to create red blood cells,” Johnson explains; adding that balanced diet and occasional use of supplements under the supervision of a doctor will rid you of it. The doctor says all the noticeable changes in the lips must not be ignored; rather, he counsels, let your physician give you a clean bill of health instead of resorting to self-medication.

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