Know Your Body Signs

Common Allergens

• Mold
Grasses and weeds
Animal dander, urine and saliva
Dust mites

Under-Eye Circles
Do you suffer from chronic dark under-eye circles? If you've tried everything from getting more rest, to changing your diet to moisturizing, and your dark circles won't go away, pay a visit to a doctor. The circles could indicate that you're suffering from allergies that you aren't aware of.

"Dark circles are what we refer to in the allergy world as allergic shiners, because they basically look like you've been hit right under the eye," allergist Dr. Marc Meth says.

Allergic shiners are caused by blood pooling under the eyes as the result of nasal and sinus congestion, Dr. Meth explains. You can prevent them through the use of medication, by avoiding common allergens or by having an allergy shot.

"There's a reason why things show around your eyes," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "It's the thinnest skin on your body."

Other causes of dark circles include consuming too much salt, not getting enough sleep and sleeping face down.


Shoulder blade pain is often caused by muscle tension, but sometimes it can be due to something much more serious -- gallstones. Find out if you're at risk.

Fading creams, laser treatments and chemical peels are all viable options to eliminate dark circles that are not caused by allergies. A good at-home tip Dr. Ordon offers is soaking chamomile or green tea bags in cold water and placing them on your eyelids for 15 minutes. "I like putting them in my freezer, because they thaw pretty quickly," he adds. "That will help dark circles under your eyes."

Dr. Ordon demonstrates why dark circles occur, and dermatologist Dr. Tess Mauricio shows you treatments to get rid of them.

Brittle Hair
If, over a course of a few months, your formerly soft, luxurious hair has changed and become brittle, coarse and tangled, you should see your doctor. It could be a sign of hypothyroidism.

Hair Health

Marisela is a new mom and is losing hair by the handfuls. Find out if hair loss after pregnancy is normal and what to do if you experience it.

Can the color of your eyebrows be an early indicator of diabetes?

Learn more about diabetes.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland, which produces and stores hormones that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and metabolism does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This causes the metabolism and other bodily functions, such as hair growth, to slow down. In addition to brittle hair, other symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, constipation and depression. It can be treated with replacement doses of thyroid hormones.

"The thyroid is the master gland of metabolism, or energy, and if it's not in balance, it literally can affect every part of your body," Dr. Ordon says.

How to Balance Thyroid Levels
• Eat foods high in minerals, such as mixed nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds and yogurt
Eat foods high in zinc such as beef, lamb, pork and salmon

Tongue Lumps
If you've ever had small bumps or lumps on your tongue, you know they can be uncomfortable. But are they normal?

"Kids get them a lot from eating too much candy — or so I tell them!" pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. "Anybody can get them from eating citrus fruits or strawberries. Sometimes, it kind of makes the tongue a little irritated. They kind of get inflamed for a couple of days ... but they eventually go away. Those are the harmless ones."

If you develop bumps on only one side of your tongue, however, it may be a sign of oral cancer. "You have to watch anything that's going on in your mouth," Dr. Ordon says. "Obviously, pain or anything that's a lump or nodular, you want to be suspicious.

"If you have something going on inside your mouth that doesn't heal in a matter of days, you definitely should have it looked at," Dr. Ordon adds.

Know Your Nails
When you jam your finger in a door or drop something on it, you expect to see a bruise. But if black or brown streaks develop under your fingernails without any trauma, you should see a doctor right away.

While there is a chance the streaks are harmless, they may be a telltale sign of acral lentiginous melanoma, also known as hidden melanoma. This form of skin cancer only develops under nails, on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and on mucous membranes. "This is a killer," Dr. Ordon says. "One of the most serious forms [of the disease]."

More on melanoma

• Get a complete list of the warning signs discussed on this show!

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OAD 7/15/10