Your Bodily Fluids and the Story They Tell
The human body is a well-built machine offering warning signs just like your car. While these signs are not flashing lights, they are easy to detect by just paying attention. Obviously aches and pains are warning signs indicating something is wrong. Another warning sign is your bodily fluids. That’s right, the stuff most of us think is gross, like poop, pee, discharges and blood, actually are magnificent storytellers about what’s going on inside our bodies. Here’s what we found out:
What does the color of our urine tell us?
Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to deep amber. The color is a result of a pigment called urochrome. The color is determined by either how diluted or concentrated this pigment is. Pigments and other compounds in certain foods and medications can change your urine color. Beets, berries, rhubarb, and fava beans are among the foods most likely to affect the color. Many over-the-counter and prescription medicines give urine vivid tones, such as red, yellow or greenish blue. One of the most common is phenazopyridine, commonly known as Ago-standard or Pyridium. Also some OTC vitamins can affect color.
An unusual urine color can be a sign of disease. For instance, deep red to brown urine is an indicator for a rare blood disease called porphyria. Colors other than red and orange are very unusual.
Normal urine color varies depending on how much fluid you take in. The more you drink, the clearer your urine looks. When you drink less, the color is deeper. (more concentrated) Severe dehydration, common in this Lowcountry heat, can make your urine amber. Alcohol consumption can also add to dehydration. So if you are at the tiki hut on a hot Hilton Head summer day having adult beverages, throw in a glass of juice or water for good measure.
See a healthcare professional if your urine is dark or orange, especially if you have pale stools and yellow skin and eyes, or if you see blood in your urine. Also if your urine is cloudy or murky, these could be signs of kidney stones or a urinary tract infection.
You can tell a lot from looking at your urine. But you can tell a lot more from a urinalysis you should be getting along with a regular physical exam from your healthcare provider.
David Burke, RPh is a registered pharmacist and partner of Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy. He is the Chairman of the Hilton Head Hospital Board of Governors and a member of the Cardinal Health National Advisory Board. Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy prides itself on being large enough to serve you and small enough to know you. They offer quality pharmacy services and medical equipment. Located at 1101 Main Street, Hilton Head Island; 843-681-2622.
What’s The Scoop on Poop?
The kind of stool you have, including the shape and the color, can tell you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. This could be a much longer response, but here’s a condensed version:
Loose or liquid stool may indicate a viral or bacterial infection or could signify a problem such as mal absorption, gluten, or lactose sensitivity. It could also be from a benign condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or microscopic colitis. This could lead to dehydration or electrolyte abnormalities.
Hard, small round or difficult to pass stool is the result of constipation, even if you pass some stool daily.
Thin caliber—or narrow—stool on a consistent basis requires an endoscopic evaluation (such as a colonoscopy) to rule out a cancer or malignancy.
Very dark or black stools (in the absence of taking Pepto Bismal or iron supplements) are worrisome for bleeding up high in the GI tract such as the stomach or small intestines.
Red stools could be indicative of bleeding from down lower in the GI tract from hemorrhoids, ulcers, cancer or diverticular pockets. On the other hand, red stools (or even green) could also be a consequence of ingesting certain foods such as beets, leafy green vegetables or dyes.
Light colored or pale stools could mean you have trouble with your liver or biliary system, which could be a serious issue such as cancer, or an obstruction such as a gallstone.
The main thing to remember is if you have any stool change that is consistent, you should see your health care provider for an evaluation.
Kim Thorpe, PA-C, is a graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Allied Health and has been a practicing Physician Assistant for the last 28 years, the last eight of which have been with Beaufort Memorial Lowcountry Medical Group Gastroenterology. She can be reached at 843-770-0404
Bloody Well Know Your Numbers!
Over the years you have probably memorized a lot of numbers. Your home phone number, cell number, social security number, home address, and maybe even your driver’s license number. While all these numbers are important, so are a few blood work numbers.
Triglycerides are a kind of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dl. A high triglyceride can increase your risk for heart disease. High triglycerides usually don’t cause symptoms but can be lowered through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the liver and found in certain foods. It is necessary to produce vitamin D and some hormones, build cell walls, and aid in fat digestion. Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl. Elevated cholesterol can lead to narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup and may cause heart disease. Cholesterol can be lowered through lifestyle changes and medications.
The sugar that the body uses for energy is called glucose. Elevated glucose levels can indicate diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body fails to process sugar correctly. Normal results for a fasting glucose test are 70-99 mg/dl.
For more information about free blood screenings or a physician referral, visit hiltonheadregional.com
Holly Mlodzinski, MS,RD,LD is a Health Promotions Coordinator at Hilton Head Regional Hospital, 25 Hospital Boulevard Hilton Head, SC 29926 843-682-7369 office 843-301-9901 cell
Clear, Green or Yellow: What’s normal and what’s snot?
Often times the color of nasal drainage can help us make a diagnosis. If the fluid is clear, there is a good chance that it is related to allergy, particularly if the eyes are watery and there is sneezing. However, clear fluid draining from the nose after a head injury is concerning and should be evaluated for possible spinal fluid leak. Yellow nasal drainage could be allergy or possible viral infection. If it lasts longer than a week it should also be evaluated. Green and/or bloody nasal drainage is more concerning for possible infection. If there is pain in the sinuses we think sinusitis. If the pain is in the nose it may be a localized staph infection, however, in young children we need to be concerned about the possibility of a foreign body in the nose, a bead, seed, etc. and they need to be seen by their physician. Pure blood from the nose can be a result of trauma or a prominent blood vessel. Dryness from medication use or removal of crusting from the nose can also cause bleeding. There are other things that can cause nasal drainage and if you have questions you should contact your physician.
Laura Knobel, M.D. is a board certified family physician, who earned her M.D. at Boston University and completed her family residency in the Brown University program. Her Direct Primary Care Practice is in Bluffton—843-836-2200.
The low down on down under:
What should you be concerned about?
There are many common vaginal infections. Most are sexually transmitted, some are hard to identify, and all need to be treated. Unusual vaginal discharge can be an indicator there is something going on. It is important to get examined so proper treatment can be prescribed, as many of these infections have similar symptoms.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Thin white, gray or green discharge. Almost half of all women show no symptoms. You could notice: thin white, gray, or green discharge; burning during urination; fishy smell that gets stronger after sex.
Genital Herpes: Some women have few or no symptoms. You may feel: Itchy or tingly genitals; painful, small blisters that pop and leave sores that ooze or bleed; first outbreak may also include fever, headache, or other flu-like symptoms.
Yeast Infection: White, clumpy discharge. Most women have a common set of symptoms including: Whitish-gray, clumpy “cottage cheese” discharge; vaginal itching and swelling around the vagina; burning during urination or sex; painful sex; soreness, redness, and rash.
Chlamydia: Bad smelling discharge. Many women have no symptoms. You could notice: A discharge that may have a bad smell; mild discomfort, which may be mistaken for menstrual cramps; bleeding between periods; painful periods; painful sex; itching or burning in or around the vagina; and painful urination.
Gonorrhea: Bloody yellowish or watery green discharge. In women symptoms are usually undetectable, extremely mild or often confused for other conditions such as a long-lasting flu. Less common symptoms may include: Unusual, increased bloody yellowish or watery green discharge; painful urination; rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.
Trichomoniasis: Clear, white, yellowish, or greenish, with an unusual fishy smell. A large percentage of women have no symptoms. You could notice: discharge changes; may be thinner or increased in volume and can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish with an unusual fishy smell; vaginal spotting or bleeding; genital burning or itching; genital redness or swelling; frequent urge to urinate; painful urination or sex.
Dr. Wilhemina Fry, PharmD, Stephens Compounding Pharmacy | 843.686.3040 55 Mathews Drive, Suite 215 Hilton Head Island, SC | Located in the Public Storage shopping plaza (In the same plaza as Bike Doctor, Jiva Yoga, and Good Health Nutrition).