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'I'm a GP – you should never ignore this unusual sign on your hands'


When it comes to illnesses and health conditions many of the symptoms we experience will appear in an area of the body obviously related to the problem. For example, lung infections will often result in coughing and shortness of breath, while stomach issues can cause pain in the abdomen.

However, the human body is an extremely complex system and this is not always, therefore, the case. Some warning signs of a health issue might appear in a part of the body you would not expect, meaning it might be dismissed or ignored.

But one expert urged people to stay on the lookout for a serious symptom that can appear on the hands.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Doctor Johannes Uys from Broadgate GP, explained that finger clubbing should not be ignored.

“One sign of serious health problems that can manifest in the hands is clubbing,” he said.

Dr Uys described this as an “enlargement” of fingertips and nails, creating a “bulbous or rounded appearance”.

It can also cause your nails to feel soft and sponge-like and warm to the touch.

Some health bodies also describe the nails as looking like an upside down spoon.

Dr Uys warned that it could signal a serious and potentially deadly health issue.

He said: “Clubbing can indicate underlying issues such as heart or lung disease, liver or gastrointestinal conditions, or certain infections.

“The exact cause of clubbing is not fully understood but is believed to be linked to reduced oxygen levels in the blood, leading to changes in the blood vessels of the hands and fingertips. When these vessels dilate, it can result in the characteristic clubbed appearance.

“In addition to clubbing, individuals may experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, a chronic cough, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss.

“These symptoms can vary depending on the underlying health condition that is causing the clubbing.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, in the US, nail clubbing is most often associated with diseases of the heart and lungs.

This includes:

  • Lung cancer
  • Lung infections
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cardiovascular disease.

However, it could also be caused by your genetics and a family history of clubbing.

Either way, you should seek medical advice if you notice finger clubbing.

“If you notice clubbing or any of these associated symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical advice immediately,” Dr Uys added.

“Your doctor can conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include physical examinations, imaging tests, and blood work, to identify the underlying health problem and initiate appropriate treatment.”

Nail clubbing can also affect the toenails.

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