September 7


But You DO Look Sick!

By Sue Ingebretson

September 7, 2010

digestive health, eyes, gums, hair, invisible illness, nails, skin, teeth

We’ve all heard the phrase, “But, you don’t look sick.” There’s even a website about the experience of looking fine while feeling not-so-fine (  Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and varying autoimmune conditions can all be classified as “invisible illnesses” because from the outside, we look fine.

Or, do we?

When our bodies are not working properly on the inside, telltale factors will eventually show up on the outside. The question of how long it takes and in what form they’ll appear depends on the individual. We’re each unique.

I’m by no means an expert on this, but I’ve developed a “sick sense” when it comes to scanning people in crowds. I can often tell by posture or gait if someone is in pain. Even without the obvious wrist/knee brace, canes, etc., people can reveal their pain levels by the way they walk and move. I used to walk that way, too — constantly protecting my neck/shoulders by not turning too far or moving too quickly. Facial expressions also reveal much.

And, there’s more. Besides pain levels, our digestive health tells a lot about how healthy we are. Taking a close look at the face can tell nutritional authorities a great deal. Facial characteristics, eyebrow thinning, the color of the whites of the eyes, etc. can indicate many nutritional deficiencies. The skin has many stories to tell! Sort of like your body’s billboard, the condition of your skin is a great indicator of the health of your digestive system (which is the center of your overall health).

Here are just a few skin conditions that make experts take note:

  • Skin discoloration (blotches across cheeks and under the nose)
  • Skin elasticity (sagginess)
  • Skin shades (pallid or flush)
  • Skin tones/uneven (rashes/red patches across cheeks/nose)
  • Skin wrinkles (where they are and how they’re grouped – even wrinkles/creases on the earlobe have meaning)
  • Skin blemishes (acne, etc.)
  • Dark undereye circles and/or puffiness
  • Skin tones (pasty complexion – the allergic-type person)


And then there’s the mouth. Many health clues can be found by examining the health of your teeth, gums, and even the tongue. I went to a seminar in February that was entirely about the diagnostic clues that can be found from looking at a person’s tongue! The tongue’s color, shape, creases, ridges, and puffiness indicate many things including yeast overgrowth and organ dysfunction. I saw pictures of tongues with white or black lines, raised bumps, ruffled edges, and strange cracks and crevices galore. Oddities, yes, but oh, so interesting!

Health clues can also be found by looking at a person’s hair and nails, so keep in mind that your entire body provides an outward example of your inward health. As you can see (literally!), how you look does say a lot about you. When you begin to care for your digestive health, you establish a level of healing from the inside out — and it shows!

  1. Once again, your blog post is educating me; I had no idea the skin could have so many telltale signs of illness. The tongue surprised me the most; now I know why my dentist has me stick out my tongue. LOL
    I too have watched people walk and have thought some have an illness or are in pain; I realize now that some people might have thought the same about me.

  2. Thanks for the great info, I was wondering why my tounge was all “wavey” and the mouth sores are unreal.
    So what can you tell me about my ears? The ringing can be very distracing not to mention painful. I have enough pain in my ears ( as well as other places 😉 ) from my TMJ. Is there anything out there to stop this. Does it specify anything in perticular, and Yes I am on Lyrica, but I had it before too.

  3. Yes definitely – and old time doctors used to be better at noticing and looking for these tell-tale signs.
    Fingers nails, and cuticles tell a worth of information. No moons, pealing, hangnails etc. I have gotten used to seeing the signs on my body – skin, hair, pallor etc before I really “flare” and know – ooh I should have been more careful of my food choices … or I have been burning the candle at both ends, or .. darn it, what the heck is all this dry crinkly skin? I can start taking action, and sometimes eliminate or at least decrease the results to entire body.
    Oh and here is a somewhat funny thing that happened to me regarding ringing in ears. When I was about 9 years old, I was being taken from one doctor to next due to migraine headaches, hand tremors and day dream like behaviours. I was asked by one scary 6′ 6″ doctor if I had ringing in my ears – I answered – ‘yes of course’, very proudly. I thought everyone had ringing in their ears, since I had always had! All the adults looked at me, like I had been keeping a secret. I just responded – “don’t you?”

    There are many things that cause the ringing in ears – but it is not supposed to be, so do get checked out.

    As always a great post!

  4. I have had Systemic Lupus and RA since I was 17. I am now 36. Since then, I have been in a coma, flat lined 4 times, been given a Kidney transplant and a knee replacement. I think that I have become pretty good at covering up how I really feel but you are correct about the skin. I have age spots already, bruise very easily, have dry cuticles that don’t respond to cremes and oils and thin nails that break off sometimes if just touched “wrong”.

    You would definitely never know half of what I have experienced by just looking at me but those who know the signs will know that something is just not right. I have been having ringing in my ears on and off for a while now and occasionally have spots run across my eyes. Usually when I am going to get a headache.

    If I do not eat too much Gluten, my headaches are not nearly as bad nor is the pain. But, when I do get headaches, I may or may not have a bloody spot in my eye! The Gluten has been linked to all Auto Immune Diseases, which is why I think I feel much better when I avoid it. Hopefully Darleen will see this and check into it.

    Thanks for the work you do.

    Christina Baita

  5. Thanks Christina! I talk quite a bit about living the GF life (on twitter, facebook, and in my book, FibroWHYalgia). I’ve found amazing healing benefits by removing wheat/gluten in my life including pain reduction, cognitive improvement, vision improvement, weight management, and improved digestive function. I’ll be sure to let Darleen know to check out your wonderful comment here 😉 Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate your experience and willingness to share!


  6. Thanks Christina – and for your mentioning me, and the gluten co relation. I will be trying no gluten over the next few weeks, as I struggle through elimination diet. Wish me luck 🙂

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Your Fibromyalgia Recovery Coach

Click HERE to learn more about what you can experience by working with me as your Fibromyalgia Recovery Coach.

HERE to schedule your own FREE Confusion to Clarity Session.

Your Fibromyalgia Recovery Coach

Books by Sue E. Ingebretson

Spread the good news of health and healing! Checkout these books to SHARE the love. 😉

And grab your copy of my Stop Pain Guide today! 

Share the guide and share the love...

"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson