Oct 2, 2008

Health - Read your hands to know your diseases

Venkatta Vemuri

Do you have club fingers? Then it’s possible you may have lung cancer. A study in the latest issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reveals your hands can provide clues to hidden diseases you may have.

Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the palms of a woman tested positive for cancer.

A 74-year-old woman who was otherwise healthy sought medical help for hard lumps on her palms. These had spread and joined together, giving the palm a ‘wooden’ feeling, making movement painful.

Doctors could not find anything wrong, but she was tested for — and diagnosed with — ovarian cancer after they found that the lumps were a rare sign of the disease.

The study’s author, Graham Easton says fingers can provide essential clues on a patient’s well-being.

“In fact, doctors can often tell more about someone’s health by their hands than their face,” Easton, a family doctor in London, told the Daily Mail.

Here are some hand signals you should look for to keep a check on your health.

Club fingers: If the tips of your fingers are dome-shaped or look like small clubs, it could be a warning sign of serious diseases such as lung cancer, TB or mesothelioma.

Blue fingernails: They look blue as blood is not being pumped round the body properly. Called cyanosis, this condition can be a warning sign for a heart failure.

Two-tone nails: Nails that are a pale white on the bottom half, nearest the skin, but a brownish shade on the top half, could be a sign of kidney failure.

Sweaty palms: Hot and sweaty palms are a sign of hyperthyroidism. With an overactive thyroid, the body uses up more calories and generates more heat.

Beaded nails: If you have tiny beads on your nails that resemble candle wax dripping, it could be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

Bony lumps on fingers: Bony pea-sized lumps that are painful to the touch around the joints of the fingers can be a marker for osteoarthritis elsewhere in the body, such as hips or knees.

Fatty knuckles: Lumps of cholesterol deposits - known as tendon xanthoma — over the knuckles are one of the signs of a potentially fatal condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia. These are hard, yellowy bumps that protrude when you clench your fist.

Reddened palms: It’s a sign of liver cirrhosis. Called palmar erythema, the reddening usually affects the outer edge of the palm.

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