How your hands can reveal certain diseases

Our hands deserve a round of applause. Not only are they incredibly useful, but as we age, they can also hold clues to underlying medical conditions that we need to attend to quickly.

It’s normal to ‘lose’ your grip as you age especially if you have arthritis. Brittle bones and muscle loss can also reduce the strength in your hands over time. But if your grip weakens suddenly, call into your GP because it could be a sign that you have diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, according to health site WebMD.

From the age of 50, hand tremors can become common for some people who drink too much coffee, are on mood stabilisers or medications that treat seizures and migraines. Having low blood sugar levels can also trigger shaky hands, as can anxiety and stress.

In the worst-case scenario, a tremor can also be caused by Parkinson’s Disease or a brain tumour. To rule out a serious condition, see your GP as soon as possible if you suffer from uncontrollable hand shaking.

The texture and appearance of the skin on your hands can also be pointers to underlying health problems. The liver spots you see on older hands are most likely caused by sun damage and are not necessarily a sign that you are suffering from something more sinister.

But if you have a spot or a mole that appears to be changing in shape or size, it could be a skin cancer that your doctor should see straight away. To understand if your sun-damaged hands are just sporting freckles or the beginnings of a melanoma, check out the Cancer Council of Australia site.

One skin condition that has the medical world somewhat mystified is known as Dupuytren’s Contracture. This is when tissue grows so unusually thick that it appears you have cords under the skin.

It is more common in men than women, and can be so severe that it forces your fingers to bend into the palm. If you have this condition and it hampers your ability to move your fingers, consult your GP for appropriate treatment. While doctors are not sure what causes this contracture, they do have therapies that help to alleviate it.

Do you know of any other hand characteristics that may be pointers to something else happening in your body?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Olga Galacho

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