Am I Normal? 6 Body Issues Explained

If you’ve gained a little weight or your hair is a bit thinner, check out some common problems and what they may mean for your health.

1 / 7

Ever wake up and notice that your body feels or looks just a bit different? Maybe your hair is a little thinner, your breath is especially smelly or your waistline is bigger than usual. In most cases, these aren’t serious health concerns, but they still may make you wonder, “Am I normal?” 

Click through to see some common problems and what they may mean for your health.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

Bad Breath

2 / 7 Bad Breath

Feel like you need endless supply of Tic-Tacs? Consider these likely reasons:

  1. Poor oral hygiene: Brush twice a day and floss once a day.
  2. What you eat: Think onions and garlic. These go through your bloodstream and are carried to your lungs -- causing that unfortunate stench.
  3. Dry mouth: Saliva cleans the mouth, and without enough of it, bacteria and debris build up. 

But it could be:

Kidney disease: If you have kidney problems, your kidneys may not take out urea from your blood, which then breaks down to form the foul-smelling ammonia.

Diabetes: If your bad breath has a somewhat fruity smell, it may be caused from a serious complication from diabetes called ketoacidosis.

Heavy Periods

3 / 7 Heavy Periods

There’s a wide range for what’s “normal” here. But if you have to change your tampon or pad every hour, and/or if your period lasts more than 7 days, see your doctor. Your menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) could be caused by a number of factors, but often the cause is a hormone imbalance, which is easily treatable.

But it could be:

Growths in the uterus: Fibroids or polyps are a common cause of heavy bleeding.

Cancer: Both uterine and cervical cancer may be a factor, though less often than growths in the uterus.

Bleeding disorders: Von Willebrand disease, in which the blood doesn’t clot normally, can also cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Female Facial Hair

4 / 7 Female Facial Hair

Women produce a low level of male hormones, also known as androgens. That can result in unwanted hair growth—including on your face—which can be totally normal.

But it could be:

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This hormonal disorder can result in an overproduction of androgens.

Cancer: Both cancers of the ovaries or adrenal glands are known to cause excess hair growth.

Cushing’s syndrome: This potentially dangerous condition causes unwanted hair in women and occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of cortisol. 

Weight Gain

5 / 7 Weight Gain

Step on the scale and see a number you don’t recognize? It’s probably one of the causes you already know:

Poor eating habits: Make healthy swaps, eat more fruits and veggies and cut back on the fattening foods.

Lack of exercise: Sure, skipping the gym every once in a while isn’t going to cause your belt to pop off but it might if you consistently trade the elliptical for your couch.

But it could be:

Stress: Too much anxiety and worry means possible stress eating to cope, and cortisol levels rise when you are stressed, which can affect your appetite and cravings.

Hypothyroidism: This condition, where your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, is known to cause weight gain.

Brittle and Discolored Nails

6 / 7 Brittle and Discolored Nails

You look down and see your nails have a yellowish color, or maybe you’ve noticed they’re breaking more often. It may be one of these not-so-serious problems:

Nail fungus: The same fungus that causes athlete’s foot may make its way to your nailbed, which can cause discoloration and breakage.

Aging: It’s common for nails to become brittle with age. (Here are some ways you can strengthen them.)

But it could be:

Psoriasis: This skin condition can turn your nails a yellow-brown color, cause “pitting” (small dents) in the nail and cause the nail to lift from the skin.

Anemia: An iron deficiency can lead to brittle nails and also cause “spoon nails” – when your nail edges raise and curve inward.

Hair Loss

7 / 7 Hair Loss

That bald patch or thinning hair may just be genetics at play: Hair loss is usually hereditary. Other common causes include:

Stress: Serious physical and mental stress—such as a loved one’s death or major surgery—can lead to shedding.

Medications: Some prescriptions for depression, blood thinners, heart disease and more can cause it. Also, starting or stopping birth control pills may mean hair loss.

But it could be:

Ringworm: Tinea captitis can cause round patches of skin on the scalp. While it’s very contagious, it’s also a very treatable infection.

Medical conditions: Thyroid disease and iron deficiency may be to blame.  

Continue Learning about Healthcare Basics

A Nurse's Perspective: The 3 Most Awesome Healthcare Tips
A Nurse's Perspective: The 3 Most Awesome Healthcare Tips
As the head nurse at a level 2 trauma center, I listen and communicate with empathy to help my patients to survive, heal and go home healthier. But I’...
Read More
What is a nurse practitioner (NP)?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who is prepared, through advanced education and clin...
More Answers
What I Love About Nursing
What I Love About NursingWhat I Love About NursingWhat I Love About NursingWhat I Love About Nursing
In honor of Nurses' Week, check out these nurses from Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), and learn about what drives their passion to care for othe...
Start Slideshow
Are Patients Too Willing to Share Information Over Social Media?
Are Patients Too Willing to Share Information Over Social Media?