What Swollen Fingers Say About Your Health
Health Signs in Hands: Page 3
If you just got off an airplane, ignore this one for now. Swollen fingers can happen for the simplest of reasons: It's hot out, you're about to get your period, or you just ate salty ramen noodles. But if your fingers feel thick and stiff or your rings still won't fit after several days of drinking plenty of fluids and cutting back on salt , the swelling could suggest hypothyroidism.
Why? When the thyroid is underactive, it produces less of the important hormones that regulate your metabolism and keep your body functioning properly. And when metabolism slows, the result is typically weight gain and water accumulation.
"One of the first places you see that excess water is in the fingers," says endocrinologist Kenneth Blanchard, who authored What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism (Grand Central Publishing, 2004). "You can feel it too; your fingers feel stiff because they don't bend as easily."
What to do: Ask your doctor about a routine thyroid check, which is a blood test that measures the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH. Make sure your doctor is aware of new screening guidelines, which state that TSH level should be between 0.3 and 3.0.