Sunday, May 22, 2011

Body Language

Our bodies are pretty good at sending out red flags when something’s wrong with our health—such as a fever due to infection or itchy hives from an allergic reaction. But sometimes the signs are misleading or easy to miss, even when they’re on one of the body parts you look at most: your hands! For instance, did you know that the length of your fingers, the state of your nails and even the shade of your palms can help predict you how healthy you’ll be in the future? Check out these little hand signals, and if anything sounds familiar, see your doc today—a bright and healthy future is up for grabs!

Swollen Fingers

WHAT THEY MEAN: We all know that salty snacks and PMS can cause bloat. But if you shun the shaker and your rings still don’t fit, and if your period isn’t due soon, this kind of swelling could suggest hypothyroidism, which means the thyroid gland is underproducing the hormones you need to regulate your metabolism and keep your body functioning properly. Thyroid problems can lead to a sluggish metabolism, weight gain and water accumulation, explains Jenny Kim, M.D., a dermatology professor at the University of California in Los Angeles. Untreated hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, low libido and even (at extreme levels) heart failure. A simple blood test will show if your thyroid is underperforming, and doctor-monitored synthetic hormone pills can help your hormones—and your fingers—return to normal.

Red Palms

WHAT THEY MEAN: Itchy, burning red palms may point to eczema, a chronic skin disorder that can worsen when you’re stressed; to limit irritation, avoid potential chemical triggers by opting for soapless cleansers and wearing gloves when cleaning or gardening. If those don’t help, redness could indicate an allergy to nickel in jewelry, chemicals in products, or antibiotics (and symptoms might show up on other parts of your body beyond the palms of your hands). Such allergies are usually more annoying than ominous, but your physician can tell for sure by doing a patch test and pinpointing what to avoid, Dr. Kim says. One exception: If you’re pregnant, don’t sweat red palms. During pregnancy, blood flow increases throughout the body, causing temporary redness in more than half of expecting women.

Pale Fingernails

WHAT THEY MEAN: “Nails should turn white when you press on them, then return to pinkish when you release,” says Anthony Martinez, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Diego. “If your nail stays white for more than a minute or two, you may have anemia or low iron.” Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue or, in serious cases, heart problems, so you’ll want to alert your doctor. To dodge a deficiency, fill up on iron-rich foods (such as lean meats, spinach and other dark green veggies, legumes, and nuts and seeds like almonds and pumpkin seeds) and foods with vitamin C, which aids iron absorption.

Numb, Blue Fingertips

WHAT THEY MEAN: Blue-hued fingers may signal a condition called Raynaud’s disease, a temporary blood vessel spasm that constricts blood flow to the fingers (hence the numbness) and occurs in five to ten percent of all people. “It’s more common in women and typically triggered by cool temperatures or stress,” Dr. Martinez says. Raynaud’s is chronic, but it’s not a huge health worry unless numbness lasts more than an hour, in which case your fingers are actually imperiled—head to the ER! Stave off a crisis by keeping circulation healthy: Cut out cigarettes and go easy on caffeine, as both constrict blood vessels, and hit the gym regularly to keep your blood pumping.


Anita said...

Iodine deficiency causes goiter, hyperthyroidism and even hypothyroidism but these two can be cured by natural thyroid . Check it out.

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