Monday March 17 2014

What your nails say about your health

Contact a doctor if your nails appear blue,

Contact a doctor if your nails appear blue, clubbed or horizontally ridged or if you see white color under your nails. File photo 

By Christine W. Wanjala

“The colour, shape and texture of our fingernails alert us to conditions like malnutrition, diabetes, iron deficiency, infection, poison and diseases of the liver, heart or lungs. Most diseases of the lungs and heart are reflected through the nails,” says a post on The Medical Concierge Group’s wall (TMCG) which shares free medical information and offers consultancies with doctors and pharmacists through calls and social media.

Your nails could be evidence of serious medical conditions according to them, and thus it is important to understand your nails. To heed the loud calls the body may be making through nails though, we need to know what says what.

According to Dennis Musoga, a nutritionist and dietician, the colour of the nails says so much about the body.” “Nails are supposed to be strong, smooth in texture and the nail bed should be a pale pink. Sometimes discolouration may point at a deficiency,” he says.

White spots appearing on the nails should also not be ignored as they could be a sign of zinc and iron deficiency.
If you have reddish and brown spots on your nails, this could also mean you have a deficiency of zinc and protein.

“White lines could indicate a lack of zinc and iron,” says Musoga.
A black discolouration that is accompanied by the nails tending to curl inwards could also be a sign of deficiency of vitamin B12.

While the dietician points out that the way the nails look is totally dependent on mineral deficiency, they could also indicate other conditions.

For instance when nails take on a bluish colour, they could hint at a problem of internal organs like the kidney or lungs.
“Discolouration could appear on the nails if one has diabetes, heart conditions, and some forms of allergy,” he says.

A yellowish tinge on the nails could sometimes hint at stress.
Greenish discolouration could hint at a bacterial infection.
Musoga also notes that sometimes change in colour could also be as a result of the way we treat the nail, especially the constant use of acetone based nail polish remover.

Changes in nail texture could also be indicative of certain changes in the state of your health. Newsflash for those who bemoan their weak and brittle nails. Constantly breaking nails could signal you are lacking Vitamin A and calcium. “If they break and form vertical lines along which they crack, then they could point at a deficiency in iron and protein,” said Musoga.

Visit a doctor
While it is important to be able to understand what your nails say, Musoga warns that this information is not meant for self-diagnosis.

“It is important to visit a doctor when you see these symptoms. They speak a lot but only a doctor is able to conclusively determine what the condition is. Even if a patient shows up with nail sysmptoms that indicate deficiency, a doctor will still have to do a proper deficiency test,” he shares.

He explains this further, giving an example of chest pain. It is usually indicative of another problem and one has to have a health professional do proper investigation to pin point the real problem.