How doctors diagnosed a woman's illness from her nails

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·2-min read

Doctors have managed to diagnose a woman’s illness from looking at her nails.

The woman, 48, a nail technician from Venezuela, was hospitalised with a fast heartbeat, dehydration and some symptoms of fever, according to her case in The American Journal of Medicine.

Doctors noted she had an acute kidney injury and a high white blood cell count.

She was rushed to the ICU and doctors found she had an enlarged thyroid gland. The woman was given a number of different medications.

The hand's of a 48-year-old woman with half-and-half nails are pictured.
Doctors determined this woman's illness from her nails. Source: The American Journal of Medicine

“During the stay in the general ward, the colouring of the patient's fingernails, with a distal reddish band covering approximately 50 per cent of the nail plate and a proximal white band on her 10 fingernails, matching the description of half-and-half nails was noticed,” doctors wrote.

“The patient said that the colour of her nails was normal before hospital admission.”

Doctors were able to diagnose the woman with Linday’s nails or half-and-half nails.

A number of diagnoses were considered but doctors determined she has Graves disease and ruled out chronic kidney insufficiency (CKI).

About 10 to 50 per cent of patients with CKI have half-and-half nails as a symptom.

Graves disease is an immune disorder where the body produces too many hormones from the thyroid gland.

In this case, to alleviate the woman’s symptoms, doctors gave her antithyroid medication which returned her nails to normal a month after she was hospitalised.

Graves disease has many symptoms including fatigue, high blood pressure, excessive sweating, insomnia and hair loss.

“This is the first case, to our knowledge, of a patient with Graves disease who presented with half-and-half nails,” doctors wrote.

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