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What's your body trying to tell you?

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Causes of common symptoms

If you've ever thought about what causes dry eyes, painful muscle spasms or aged cracking joints, wonder not. We've compiled a list of the most common "what's my body trying to tell me?" symptoms and we're here to tell you what they mean and how to deal with them.

Woman rubbing eyes

Symptom: Dry Eyes

The problem: Your eyes always seem to feel itchy and dry.

Most likely cause: Several things can cause dry eyes, from standing in the wind to staring at your computer screen. Medication and stress can also be factors.

What to do: The best way to avoid dry eyes is to use eyes drops (to replenish lost moisture) or to break up how long you stare at your computer screen.

Least likely cause: In some rare instances, dry eyes can signal an autoimmune disorder.

How to get rid of puffy, red eyes

Symptom: Cracking joints

The problem: Much to the chagrin of your family and friends, you can crack you fingers, knees and ankles on cue.

Most likely cause: Your body is filled with a variety of gases, and every time you stretch or move a joint, gas can get trapped. The popping sound happens when gas gets pushed from the joint area rapidly (for example, if you make a sudden strong movement).

What to do: There's not much you can do outside of exercise to strengthen your joints and muscles. And, perhaps, not twist your neck or fingers to intentionally irritate your family and friends.

Least likely cause: Popping joints accompanied by pain can be a sign of arthritis.

Tips to prevent arthritis

Symptom: Muscle spasms

The problem: You wake up in the middle of the night with a muscle spasm in your calf or upper thigh.

Most likely cause: You're dehydrated or not getting enough activity during the day.

What to do: Drink more fluids and get up from your desk at least once an hour to stretch your muscles. Also, be sure to wear footwear that offers adequate support, so you can avoid any muscle strain.

Least likely cause: Muscles spasms can be a sign of a blocked artery.

Symptom: Dry Lips

The problem: No matter how much lip balm you apply, your lips always seem to be chapped and bloody.

Most likely cause: You're either licking your lips too much or your environment is drying them out (dry air and wind are notorious moisture sappers). You could also be running low on iron (a problem common to women).

What to do: Stay well-hydrated and, wherever possible, use a humidifier. Also apply a lip balm with vitamin E (which has moisturizing and healing properties).

Least likely cause: A fungal infection.

Tips to kiss your dry, chapped lips good-bye

Symptom: Night sweats

The problem: You wake up in the middle of the night sweating through your clothes and sheets.

Most likely cause: If you're on any medication, or have been, the drugs could be affecting how your body regulates its temperature. Your home thermostat may be set too high. A woman's menstrual cycle can also cause irregular body temperatures.

What to do: Your body is happiest when sleeping in cool temperatures, so turn down the thermostat and try wearing moisture-wicking clothes to bed.

Least likely cause: Autoimmune disorders like lupus and cancer, or the chronic condition called hyperhidrosis, a disease marked by excessive constant sweating.

Treatments for excessive sweating

More on the meaning of symptoms

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