Weird Ways Your Body Warns You Something is Wrong | Whittier, CA | PIH Health

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Published on July 18, 2022

Weird Ways Your Body Warns You Something is Wrong

The color and smell of some bodily fluids can tell you a lot about your health.

Photo of a couple with shocked expressionsTalking about bodily fluids can be discomforting, but they may be your body's way of telling you something isn't right. Although bodily fluids aren't something you want to discuss at the dinner table, you should speak to your doctor if they seem off because it may mean there's something going on that needs to be addressed by a medical professional.

“It’s essential to listen to your body and get checked out by your physician if you notice something is off. Your doctor can help you determine what your body is trying to tell you,” explains Nelson Dalla Tor MD, a family medicine physician for PIH Health. “So many patients will turn to the Internet to diagnose themselves and think they know what the issue is, but often incorrect. Always discuss your concerns with your doctor, no matter how embarrassing they may seem,” Dr. Dalla Tor adds.

Mucus

Believe it or not, we produce and swallow about 2 cups of nasal mucus daily. While it sounds gross, nasal mucus serves an important purpose. It's a barrier to infection, trapping foreign particles so they don't enter the body and infect your lungs.

The color of your mucus may indicate potential health problems:

  • White: If your mucus is white or cloudy instead of clear, it's due to congestion. You may have a cold or allergies.
  • Yellow or green: You may have a respiratory infection that your body is fighting off. Or you may have sinusitis, a bacterial infection that must be treated with antibiotics.
  • Pink or red: This may be due to bleeding or inflammation.

The color of your mucus isn't as important as whether it suddenly changes from what you're used to seeing and how you feel otherwise. See a doctor if you have any concerning symptoms or don't get better after a few days.

Urine

Clear or pale yellow urine is a good indicator that you are generally healthy and well hydrated. But if you notice other colors, it may mean something isn't quite right:

  • Dark yellow: You may be dehydrated or have an excess of B vitamins in your body.
  • Orange: This could indicate more severe dehydration or that your liver isn't working properly.
  • Pink or red: This may be a sign of blood in your urine, which could be caused by a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or something more serious. If you recently ate beets, your urine may also be this color.
  • Dark brown or maroon: This could also be a sign of blood in your urine. Additionally, dark brown urine can be a sign of muscle injury or damage, such as after heavy exertion or significant traumatic muscle injury. It can also be a sign of porphyria, a disorder of the nervous system.

The smell of your urine can also indicate a health issue. Urine typically should not have much of an odor. If you smell something strong or sweet, it could be a sign of a urinary tract or bladder infection, diabetes, or other metabolic diseases. Some foods and medications (like asparagus!) can affect the color and smell of urine. But if it's happening on a regular basis and you don't know why, mention it to your doctor.

Sweat

Our bodies produce two types of sweat: a light, watery sweat when we're exercising and a thick, fatty sweat when we're stressed. While some sweat is natural and helps to cool you off, there are certain instances when sweating (or not sweating) can indicate a problem:

  • Anhidrosis: This is when you never sweat, even if it's hot or when exercising. This may be caused by diabetes, radiation therapy, heatstroke, alcoholism, or genetics.
  • Hyperhidrosis: If you often sweat excessively, a doctor can make recommendations on how to improve this condition.

A sudden outbreak of heavy sweating may also indicate a serious health issue, such as a heart attack. If this occurs, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, seek medical treatment right away.

If you want to learn more about primary care at PIH Health or if you are looking for a primary care physician in or near your area, visit PIHHealth.org/Primary.

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