HealthNails reveal unseen liver woes: Why hand symptoms matter

Nails reveal unseen liver woes: Why hand symptoms matter

Symptoms related to nails may herald serious liver diseases.
Symptoms related to nails may herald serious liver diseases.
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Albina+Mihajlo

9 July 2024 13:33

The liver is the largest gland and one of the critical organs in our body, making daily care for its health extremely important. Unfortunately, when the liver is ill, it may not send clear warning signals for an extended period or present unusual and misleading symptoms that are not always straightforward. Some of these symptoms may be visible on the hands.

The liver is an organ susceptible to many diseases. The most common conditions include chronic and acute viral hepatitis, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis, Wilson's disease, and autoimmune hepatitis.

Notably, many symptoms of improper liver function are very observable. Symptoms indicating problems may include yellowing or paleness of the skin, a yellow coating on the tongue, itchy skin, unusual colour of stool and urine, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, nausea, vomiting, pain in the right hypochondrium, gallbladder issues, and spider veins and bruises appearing on the back.

Many may remain unaware of their health problems long before apparent symptoms appear. Symptoms often become noticeable only in the advanced stages of the disease, which can lead to severe complications. Therefore, observing our bodies is very important.

Nails as an indication of liver problems? Doctors researched the topic

One particularly unusual issue draws attention. Doctors warn that an unhealthy liver, like other conditions, may manifest symptoms on the hands, specifically on the nails. Research confirms this connection.

One study, conducted by experts from the Clinic of Dermatology, Venereology, and Andrology at Sohag University in Egypt, analysed the medical data of 1,000 people. It noted that 80 percent of patients with hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) and other liver diseases had changes in their nails. This is a very high percentage.

Similar studies have shown that such symptoms were observed in 75 per cent of people suffering from liver diseases. The Egyptian scientists closely observed the nails' colour, texture, thickness, and curvature to detect liver disorders early. The researchers identified the symptoms of problems with this organ.

The studies' authors point out that "drumstick fingers" (characterised by unnatural nail rounding and enlargement of the fingertips) are a common symptom of chronic inflammation and liver cirrhosis. Meanwhile, Terry's nails, which have a powdery white colour and matte cloudiness, indicate advanced liver cirrhosis. Observing the hands is, therefore, an essential element of liver prophylaxis.

How can we take care of the liver? First and foremost, we should stop drinking alcohol and incorporate physical activity into our daily routine. It is also unwise to overuse medications. Our diet should include healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and nuts.

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