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Can Fingernails Predict Your Health?

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I once went to a psychic that said she was able to read palms. Supposedly the lines near my pinky when I make a fist mean that I’m going to have three kids. (I’m thirty-six and only have one …  I better get busy!) And the strong curved line by my thumb means I’m going to have a long life. It splinters off at one point, though I’m not sure what that means … Reincarnation? A double life? 


Though palms only provide dubious clues, it turns out that I can look to my fingernails for some real hints about my future. Our nails offer clues to our health and can sometimes help tip us off to what’s going on beneath the bed. 


What Your Fingernails Are Saying
Take a close look at your nails. According to the Mayo Clinic, characteristics such as color, texture, and general appearance can help determine if something is amiss. 


Color


  • Though blue nail polish might be a hit with the younger set, a bluish tint to your nails isn’t a good thing. It may indicate you’re not getting enough oxygen. Yellowish, thickened nails can also be a sign of respiratory illnesses such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, though you’re likely to have breathing issues long before your nails start to turn yellow.
  • Sometimes what lies beneath is what you need to look for. Nails that are opaque but show a dark band beneath the top of the nail are called Terry’s nails. This can be a sign of several conditions including congestive heart failure, diabetes, liver disease, and malnutrition. It can also be a sign of aging.
  • Pale, white nail beds could be a sign of anemia.
  • Rose red nail polish might be romantic, but red nail beds can be a possible indicator of heart disease.
  • It’s no surprise that your nails shouldn’t be green. If you have acrylic nails put on, make sure you go to a salon with impeccable sanitary practices or, better yet, bring your own set of tools to your manicurist. 


Texture


  • When it comes to your nails, you want to be a smooth operator. Raised ridges can be a sign of an iron deficiency. And pitted or rippled nails can indicate psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis.
  • Do your nails crack and split before you can paint them? Dry, brittle nails can indicate thyroid disease.
  • Horizontal lines, called Beau’s lines, can be a sign of diabetes, circulatory disease, past high fever, or malnutrition. 


Appearance


  • Clubbing (where nails seem broader and curve around the fingertips) is a possible sign of lung, liver, or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Nails that are separating from the bed can indicate thyroid disease. 


Hit the Nail on the Head
With each new nail symptom I researched, I studied my own nails and invariably found possible issues. Maybe there’s a little bit of pitting on this nail. And are they blue? Or are they too pale? Like anything else, nails are just a possible symptom or side effect of a health problem and slight problems or changes aren’t reason for alarm. Nails aren’t always the first indicator of an illness either; you’re likely to have other signs and symptoms of illness first. 


If you notice changes or abnormalities with your fingernails, don’t dismiss them, but don’t freak out, either. Make an appointment with your doctor—he or she will decide whether your nails truly know what lies beneath.

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