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Colour Coded

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Our body is a canvas and each part has colours that fit and those that don’t. Rhea Dhanbhoora shows you which hues are right for your body and which indicate that may be something amiss

We all know yellow means jaundice and being pale means we’re probably lacking in iron. But, when certain parts of your body turn an uncommon shade, it’s best you pay attention as it usually indicates that something might be a little off. So, to help you out, we spoke to medical advisor for www.medico.in, Dr. Purvish Parikh and Dr. Sanjay Chatterjee from Nova Specialty Surgery and asked them to decode the colours of certain parts of our body.

Seeing through it all
Let’s get started with what’s helping you read this article. Your eyes are extremely important and just like they’re the windows to your soul, they’re quite telling about your health too.

Red A slight red tinge on the surface of your eye can be caused by large, dilated blood vessels and is usually nothing to worry about. But, if it gets worse, you could be coming down with dry eyes, allergies or conjunctivitis. Antihistaminic eye drops help, but if it lasts for more than a few days, seek medical advice.

Yellow Unless you’re a werewolf, we’re sure you’re aware that a yellow tinge is not a normal eye colour. It could indicate jaundice or liver problems and you’re not going to want to delay that doctor’s visit.

White White eyes are good — usually. If they’re chalky white, you’re missing out on the right levels of red blood cells, which could indicate you have anemia.
Blue Blue may be the colour of the ocean and a soothing treat for your eyes, but if your eyes are tinged with blue, see a doctor immediately as you could have a connecting tissue disorder.

Covering it up
Tanned in the summer and paler during winter, your skin changes colour and texture more than other parts of your body do. There’s a reason the phrase ‘in the pink of health’ exists and if your skin is anything but a nice, slightly flushed colour, there’s probably something up.

Yellow A slight yellowing of your skin may be associated with jaundice, but that’s not the only thing that you should be wary of. It could also be a symptom of hypothyroidism.

Blue Cardiac, respiratory problems and cyanosis are characterised by the appearance of a bluish tinge to your skin or mucous membranes due to the tissues near the surface of your skin being low on oxygen. The bluish colour is more apparent in people with high haemoglobin counts than it is in people with anemia.

Red Pinkish skin is normal as is brown and coloured, because we all know skin colours differ. But, if your skin has suddenly become extremely red, don’t ignore it thinking you’ve just gotten a bit too much sun. It’s probably an allergy or infection that requires you to take an antibiotic to soothe it.

Patchy If your skin is blue in some parts, red in others with a little touch of yellow thrown in, that’s one canvas you’re going to want to paint over. Irregular skin colouring means your melanin content is changing or you’ve got a bleeding disorder. You could also have foreign organisms growing on your skin. Eek!

Scratching under the surface
We pay so much attention to the strength of our nails that we forget how important it is to check what colour they are. So, ladies, take off that nail polish and men, scrub your hands clean and examine your nails for these colours.

Pale Unlike pale skin that needs a little iron boost, pale nails can be a sign of serious illnesses such as congestive heart failure and malnutrition. They can also be a sign of anemia though, so don’t get too worried.

White White nails not only look strange, they also indicate you’ve been taking one too many swigs of your drink, causing liver problems.

Yellow Yes, we know, we know. Jaundice is one of the reasons. But, did you know that there’s a rare medical syndrome which includes pleural effusions, lymph oedema (due to lymphatic hyperplasia) and yellow dystrophic nails? It is also associated with chronic sinusitis and persistent coughing.

Blue If your body is not getting enough oxygen, your nails could get a bluish tint. It also indicates possible heart problems and poses a risk of you developing lung infections. On a slightly lighter note, we suggest getting checked for pneumonia first.

Dark lines Forget a colour, are your nails stylishly streaked under the beds? Well, here’s where you need to rush to your nearest doctor. They could be fungal infections, but could also be caused by skin cancer, melanoma. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?

The number one problem
Don’t be bashful, read on! The colour of your urine is one of the strongest ways to see whether your body is doing okay.

Clear This is one of those ‘there’s good and then there’s bad’ instances. Clear urine can mean you're healthy. Typically, the healthier you are, the lighter your urine colour. While you would think that clear urine would mean a well-hydrated, healthy body, the ideal healthy urine colour is actually straw yellow. Clear urine that does not appear to have any colour can mean that you are healthy and have a well-hydrated body, but it could also mean that you are over hydrated and risk water intoxication (water poisoning) or you may even have diabetes. Shocking, no?

Yellow We’re sure you’re jumping up and down screaming jaundice. But, we have a surprise for you! The over concentration of waste in your urine is what’s giving it the darker colour. On a slightly, ahem, darker note, anemia can cause dark yellow urine colour. Hepatitis can also be a reason and it’s usually caused by a viral infection, certain medications or even alcohol consumption.

Orange Been eating too many beetroots now, have we? Either that, or some sort of medication is causing your urine to turn orange. Don’t worry about it, but if it sticks around, a visit to a doctor is advised.

Green & Blue Sounds terrible but it really isn’t. Like orange urine, green or blue urine is also caused because of medication or something you’ve eaten recently.
Red Just like a stop light, this one’s dying for your attention. Red urine colour can be caused by blood in the urine. This is a serious matter and may be a symptom of a medical issue related to your kidney, prostate or bladder. Don’t delay a visit to your doctor.

What a load of Poo
Quite literally! We’ve saved the ickiest for last. We know your idea of a good read is not learning more about the colour of your stools, but this will really help. So, we suggest you resist the urge to flip past and take a look at what you may be ignoring.

Black This is not a colour you want your stools to be! If it’s black, with a thick consistency, it may be because of bleeding in your upper digestive tract. Medical conditions that can cause dark, tar-like stool include duodenal or gastric ulcers, oesophageal varices and gastritis. While painkillers and steroids can help stop this, we’re going to be super safe and recommend a visit to the doctor.

Brown Now that’s more like it. The colour of plain cardboard is what an ideal bowel movement should look like. It leaves the body easily with no straining or discomfort and means you’re in the pink (or should we say brown?) of health.

Red This is just not a very good colour, is it? Blood from the upper part of the digestive tract, such as the stomach, will look dark by the time it exits the body as a bowel movement. Blood that is bright red, on the other hand, is more likely to come from the large intestine or rectum. Don’t panic though because it usually just takes a drop of blood to turn the toilet bowl red. However, if bloody stools is a regular problem for you, make an appointment with your doctor.

Grey That’s a strange colour and definitely not normal. If you’re taking iron supplements, stop. And visit your doctor immediately.

Green If you’ve had typhoid or are suffering from a fever, you’re going to be dealing with a little bit of green. Which is fine, but if you haven’t been diagnosed yet, see a doctor.

Yellow Yellow stools can indicate that food is passing through your digestive tract too quickly. Or, you could have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If your stools are accompanied by heartburn or chest pain of any sort, medical attention is needed.

You won’t French kiss this!
The control centre of your mouth, helping you taste, talk, swallow and well, kiss — what would we do without our tongues? Just like your skin, your tongue should be pink as well. Good oral hygiene can keep infections at bay, but sometimes it won’t do the trick. Here’s what your tongue is trying to tell you.

Pale If you brush your tongue and it is still pale, then it could indicate a deficiency of some sort and if you don’t have anemia, visit a doctor because it could have just sprung up.

Bright red Seeing red every time you open your mouth? A deep red tongue indicates an extreme heat condition. In exogenous (caused by external factors) diseases, it indicates invasion of pathogenic heat. In endogenous (caused by internal factors) diseases, it indicates a deficiency leading to hyperactivity.

Purple Remember us talking about cyanosis? Well, here’s your tongue trying to tell you to step outside and get some fresh air.

“The colour of your tongue can tell you a lot about your health. If it’s pale you could have anemia but if it is bright red it means you have a vitamin B deficiency. Typhoid or fungal infections cause a white coating to appear on your tongue. If your tongue turns black, it’s because of antibiotics, penicillin or iron supplements. Dark red signifies high haemoglobin levels.”
— Dr. Nikhil Kulkarni, General physician, S.L. Raheja Hospital

“Blackberries, beetroots and rhubarb can give your urine an orange hue. Beets give it a red or orange urine colour. Medications and drugs are a typical cause of blue urine, since many of these contain dyes. Methylene Blue is a fairly common dye used in several prescription drugs and it is also used as an indicator dye for certain types of medical analysis.”
— Dr. Purvish M. Parikh, Medical advisor for www.medico.in

Spotted a little blue on your bundle of joy? Don’t get too worried. Like in adults, when a baby isn’t getting enough oxygen, their skin could turn a slight blue shade. Also, if the blood in their body is moving too slowly, it could cause a bluish tinge.

When to worry If it starts spreading, visit a doctor. If it’s the hands, feet or area around the mouth, it’s normal with infants because their circulatory system has not matured completely.




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