18 things your body could be telling you about your health


The body has ways of communicating health issues.

Often the way your nails, eyes, stools and urine look or smell can determine whether you have a medical condition or not. According to Dr Asavela Koti, a general practitioner based in Komani, Eastern Cape, these could seem like harmless symptoms but they could in fact be a warning sign of an illness or other health issues.


Dr Asavela says your nails can reveal clues about your overall health. She adds that problems in the liver, lungs and heart can show up in your nails.

Pale nails: Dr Asavela says pale nails can sometimes be a sign of serious illness such as anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease and malnutrition. “If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this can be a sign of liver problems such as hepatitis,” she says.

Yellow nails: Yellow nails are caused by a fungal infection. “In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis,” she says. Blue nails: Nails with a blue tint can mean the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could indicate a lung problem, such as emphysema.

Bumpy nails: Bumpy nails are an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis.


The eyes aren’t just the window to your soul, they also offer a glimpse into your health. They can signal vision problems, diabetes, stress or retinal detachment, a condition that causes permanent vision loss.

Yellow eyes: Yellowing of the eyes can be a sign of a liver problem.

Loss of vision: A sudden loss of vision can be a sign of a stroke. “It may sometimes be due to a loss of oxygen to one particular part of the brain. Sudden double vision, dim vision or loss of vision are the visual warning signs stroke,” says Dr Asav.

Cloudy vision: This c be caused by diabetic retinopathy, a state caused by damage to blood vessels in the photosensitive retina tissue, says Nomusa Ndaba, an ophthalmologist based in Roodepoort.

A lump on the eyelid: Nomusa says this can be a symptom of sebaceous gland carcinoma. “This appears due to a blocked sebaceous gland and usually goes away within a few days,” she says.

Eye spasms: “These annoying eye twitches are caused by contractions of the eyelid muscles due to irritation of the muscle fibres. The underlying cause is almostly and completely gentle and can occasionally be caused by stress, fatigue or caffeine,” says Nomusa.


Paying attention to your bowel movements is very important says Dr Mohammed Mohammed, a colorectal surgeon based in Johannesburg. He says our bowel habits are a strong indicator of your digestive health.

Pebbly stool: This can mean that you’re probably not getting enough fibre in your diet, so your bowel movements aren’t clumping in larger lumps. This could also mean that you’re not drinking enough fluids, says Dr Mohamed.

Loose stool: Loose stools can signal several issues, including a flu, food intolerance or allergy, a gastrointestinal condition, such as colitis or a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract.

Black or red stools: Certain medications and iron supplements can turn faeces black. Also, some foods, like beetroot or tomato sauce can change of its colour. “If blood is causing the colour, it could signal hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding or even cancer,” warns Dr Mohammed.

Sticky and gel-like stools: Could be a sign of intestinal bleeding, lly if it’s dark and has appening for only a me.

Pencil-thin stool: This means you don’t get enough fibre.

Extra-smelly stool: This may signal conditions, like gastrointestinal bleeding or trouble digesting fat, possibly from other health problems.

Mucousy stool: This is common in young women, and at least twice as likely in females than in men with irritable bowel syndrome, says Dr Mohammed.


A healthy person’s urine is typically bright yellow; almost clear, according to Dr Asavela.

Smelly urine: “Foods, medication, vitamins and medical conditions can all cause your urine to smell. Smelly urine can also indicate that you have a medical condition that needs attention,” says Dr Asavela.

Cloudy urine: This can be caused by different medical conditions, ranging from the relatively benign to severe medical condition.

Burning or painful urination: A painful or burning sensation while urinating can be caused by a number of medical conditions, ranging from the mild to the serious, says Dr Asavela. Pain while urinating is typically felt in the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder or in the area around the genitals. Dr Asavela advises people to see a doctor before self-diagnosing. “The major danger of self-diagnosing would be a misdiagnosis or getting the wrong information about your medical condition,” says Dr Asavela.

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