There are approximately 26 fluids in the human body. The Doctors reveal the health secrets behind some of the most vital.
All about the Ears
It is normal for wax to accumulate in ears, and it often ranges in color from yellow to light or dark brown, to orange-brown.
"We all need it," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. "It helps protect the ear canal."
Washing the outside of your ears with a washcloth is important for good hygiene, but you should never attempt to clean the wax inside your ears with cotton swabs or small or sharp objects. "Ideally, it's going to kind of ball up and fall out on its own," Dr. Sears says. "If you need to get it cleaned out, go to the doctor and let [him or her] use the special tools and the special drops."
To clean ear wax on your own, Dr. Sears recommends putting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ear to soften the wax so it can fall out.
Plastic surgeon and board certified ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Andrew Ordon demonstrates how ear infections develop.
If a child has a high-grade fever, higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, accompanied by ear discharge, seek a doctor's care immediately. "If behind the ear it's red, or swollen or tender, that's often a sign that the infection has spread from the ear into the bone," Dr. Sears explains. "That's very serious because the next step after the bone is the brain."
Additionally, if a child or an adult suffers a head trauma and clear fluid is leaking from the ear, seek immediate medical attention. The liquid may be cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain.
Menstrual blood is an important vital sign for women. "It basically tells us you're healthy," OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. Or it could be a warning sign of a more serious condition.
"If you're going through more than a pad or a tampon an hour, or you're having clots, then this can be life-threatening to a women," Dr. Lisa says. It can be a sign of anemia, be caused by a hysterectomy and necessitate a blood transfusion.
The color of a woman's menstrual blood can reveal information about her health as well. A constant bright red flow can indicate flooding, which is heavy bleeding that occurs when the blood doesn't clot. This can be caused by liver problems.
Using the menstruation color wheel, Dr. Lisa explains what the colors of your menstrual blood indicate about your health.
"Usually it's your regular sort of brownish-to-red color," Dr. Lisa says. "What you want to do with these colors is think about the fact that menstrual blood isn't just blood. Actually, very little of it is blood."
Much of it is made up of components such as endometrial cells, cervical mucus and vaginal secretions. Dr. Lisa displays the different sizes of menstrual blood clots and what they mean.
Another type of fluid that women should be aware of is amniotic fluid, which surrounds and protects a baby in the womb. The fluid serves many functions: It helps the baby's lungs develop properly, maintains a constant temperature in the womb and is used to determine if the fetus has any genetic defects.
"It's very important," Dr. Lisa says. "It's one of the things we look at in ultrasounds. It's very important that it remains at a constant level."
After giving birth, women experience lochia, which is the vaginal discharge or bleeding expelled by the uterus after delivery.
"The uterus is trying to shrink and expel all the mucus, and the blood, and the placental things that are coming out," Dr. Lisa says. "It's kind of like menstrual fluid, but a little different. You may have to wear a pad for quite a number of weeks after pregnancy. "As long as it's not clotting, as long as it doesn't have a foul odor, then you're OK," she adds. "It's an absolutely normal thing."
Have you ever wondered what is in your vomit? It often consists of whatever was in your stomach — usually water and partially digested food and drink — and bile. Vomiting is a reflex that can oftentimes be due to a systemic illness or a toxin in the body, such as a bacterial or viral infection, and it can cause dehydration, especially in children. "Vomiting in kids usually isn't a big deal," Dr. Sears says. "It's the dehydration they get because of the vomiting that usually can cause big problems."
Dehydration Warning Signs:
If your child is experiencing early signs of dehydration, Dr. Sears suggests giving him or her an electrolyte drink.
"I want to encourage parents to keep [their kids] hydrated before it gets too late," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "By the [time] your child's lethargic and not taking fluids, you've got to bring them to the ER for IV fluids. Otherwise, they're not going to keep enough in to keep up with what their potentially losing through vomit."