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If you're ill, you might not be the first person to know. Sounds strange? Sometimes, our doctors can spot hidden signs of illness that we don't pick up on, either because we don't notice they're symptoms or because we don't think they're serious enough to worry about.
However, a competent doctor can spot these weird warning signs.
Don't believe me?
Actor-comedian Billy Connelly was walking through a hotel lobby and feeling perfectly healthy when an Australian fan, who happened to be a doctor, stopped him and suggested that the way he was walking was indicative of early Parkinson's disease. The doctor suggested Connelly saw his own GP for tests when back in the UK. Tests confirmed that Connelly was, indeed, in the early stage of Parkinson's disease.
Most of us don't have doctor-fans who stop us in hotel lobbies and ask for autographs while giving preliminary free diagnoses.
However, there are some symptoms that we can all look out for that may be a sign of something more sinister lurking in our bodies.
Hidden Symptom: Yellowing of the skin
Could be a sign of: jaundice; problem with the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder
A yellowish tint to the skin should always be checked by a doctor. Jaundice is the most common cause. In jaundice, a substance called bilirubin (a waste product that makes your urine yellow) builds up in the body and tissues. It's most commonly caused by serious problems in the liver (cancer, cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease), the pancreas (pancreatitis, cancer) and the gallbladder (gallstones, cancer).
However, even if you have yellowing of the skin, don't panic (but do see a doctor). A mild yellow tint may indicate Vitamin B12 deficiency. To prevent a B12 deficiency, everyone, especially those over 50, vegetarians of all ages, and people with Celiac Disease should take a minimum of 150 mcg of vitamin B12 daily.
Hidden Symptom: Blue tinge to lips
Could be a sign of: heart disease
Another symptom to never ignore. Blue-tinged lips, or lips with a blue outline, are a sign of poor-circulation, meaning that the needed oxygen is not getting around your body. They are a sign your heart isn't functioning properly. When your heart isn't working, and your blood isn't getting the oxygen it needs, your blood becomes darker, making your lips look blue.
Beware, too, of the "healthy" flushed face. A pinkish-purple flush to the face could be a sign of mitral stenosis, where the mitral valve (the one on the left side of the heart) fails to open fully. This increases blood pressure and causes that flushed appearance.
Always see your doctor.
Hidden Symptom: Tiny yellow lump near your eye
Could be a sign of: cholesterol
This symptom is most common in adults in their 40s and 50s, and is a sign of potentially-dangerous high cholesterol. When our LDL (bad) cholesterol rises, little fatty yellow deposits, called xanthelasma are dumped under our skin.
A Danish study of 13,000 people found that those patients with xanthelasma are more likely to have a heart attack or die within ten years.
If you've started getting xanthelasma, ask for a cholesterol blood test. If your cholesterol is high, it could be time to start eating a diet rich in heart-healthy oily fish, whole-grains, and vegetables, or even to consider taking statins.
Hidden Symptom: An eyelid that suddenly droops
Could be a sign of: lung cancer
If you have lung cancer, there can be a strange symptom - so subtle, you may not notice it - called "Horner's syndrome". In Horner's syndrome, there is nerve damage to the eyelid, causing a slight drooping. Horner's syndrome usually affects only one eye.