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August 4, 2017

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered Nurses,
Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial Board]


When you’re concerned about your health, don’t just look for the
obvious signs. Many different parts of your body from your skin to
your nails can reveal clues to your wellbeing and risk of serious
disease – even your earlobes could be telling you something.

It turns out your earlobes could actually be sending you an essential
message relating to your health. While you may ignore your earlobes
for most of the time, they hold clues to your cardiovascular, kidney,
and blood pressure wellbeing. Take a closer look at your earlobes or
the earlobes of a loved one and see what they are saying.

Frank's Sign on Your Earlobes Could Tell You If You’re At Risk of
Heart Disease


Your earlobes could be the first signal that you are at higher risk of
stroke, according to recent scientific studies.

How can your earlobes display information about your cardiovascular
health? It turns out there is a certain condition called Frank’s sign,
which is directly related to stroke risk.

Frank’s sign is a diagonal crease along the earlobe. A 2017 study
from Bar-Ilan University, Israel found that 79 percent of people
hospitalized for stroke had Frank’s sign on their earlobes. The study
looked at 241 patients who were admitted to hospital for this serious
condition.

As well as finding that nearly 80 percent of these with stroke had the
earlobe condition, they also found that those who had suffered an
acute ischemic stroke also had a history of heart attack. Out of these
people, who had suffered a stroke and a previous heart attack, 90
percent had Frank’s sign of the earlobes.

Out of these findings, researchers concluded that Frank’s sign could
be used to predict the likelihood of cardiovascular events.

The 2017 study from Israel is not the only study to show a link
between the earlobes and heart disease. A 2012 study from Cedars-
Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles discovered that people with the
diagonal earlobe crease were more likely to show signs of heart
disease.

The Cedars-Sinai study looked at 430 patients and found that the
condition was “independently and significantly associated with
increased prevalence, extent, and severity” of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies have also shown that patients with an earlobe crease
are more likely to suffer cardiac events than patients without. A 2014
study from Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China into 450
people showed that around half of those people with significant
heart disease had the earlobe crease. A 2006 study from University
Hospital, Linköping, Sweden showed similar results.

A Danish Study of 11,000 People Verified that Frank's Sign Predicts
Heart Trouble

































In most of these studies, the existence of an earlobe crease is
independently associated with cardiovascular events and not linked
to other risk factors like smoking or diabetes.

In fact, the largest study to date, the 2014 Copenhagen City Heart
Study from Frederiksberg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark followed
over 11,000 people for 35 years.

Researchers found that having the earlobe crease was associated
with an increased risk of heart disease.

Frank’s sign is named after Sanders T. Frank, M.D., the physician who
discovered the condition in the 1970s. Why should a crease in the
earlobe be linked to heart disease?

Experts believe that it could be a sign of poor blood flow to the
earlobes, or a symptom of blood vessel weakening, either of which
could point to poorer heart condition.

If you have the earlobe crease, don’t panic. But take a closer look at
other risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and
obesity to make sure you are living a lifestyle that can more fully
protect your heart.

Look Out For Baby’s Earlobes to Help Their Health

Earlobe creases in the case of Frank’s sign are hardly ever seen in
infants. But there are earlobe signs in babies that can signal health
problems.

For example, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome results in creases
around the ear or small holes.

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome is experienced by around 1 in
13,700 newborns in the world, according to the US National Library
of Medicine, so it is rare. It doesn’t cause major symptoms but could
mean the child is at higher risk of certain tumors including a form of
kidney cancer named Wilms tumor.

Are Children’s Earlobes Low-Set?

In addition, low-set earlobes in infants could be a sign of Down’s
syndrome or Turner syndrome. Both these conditions are caused by
a chromosome and result in other physical differences as well as
developmental issues.

Turner syndrome may result in problems with how the head and the
neck develop. It is a genetic disorder that affects about 1 in every
2,000 infants and only affects females, according to the UK’s National
Health Service.

Earlobe Shape and Possible Kidney Problems

Skin tags on the earlobes or misshapen earlobes could be a sign of
kidney problems in newborns, according to experts, because the ears
develop at the same time as the kidneys. If a doctor spots the signs
on a newborn he or she may order further tests to see if there are
any kidney issues.

A 2001 study from the University of California-Los Angeles, School of
Medicine says that “ear malformations are associated with an
increased frequency of clinically significant structural renal anomalies
compared with the general population.” Malformed earlobes and the
existence of another clinical issue such as family history of deafness,
maternal history of diabetes, or other facial malformations needed
follow-up with a scan, researchers stated.

Red Earlobes When Drinking Could Be a Sign of Blood Pressure
Problems


If your earlobes and your face flush red when you drink alcohol it
could mean your blood pressure is at greater risk when you drink. A
2013 study from Chungnam National University and University of
Ulsan in South Korea compared the risk of high blood pressure in
men who flushed red after drinking, compared to the risk in men
whose ears or face did not flush.

The researchers found that people whose ears and face flushed
increased their blood pressure to a hazardous level when they had
four drinks a week. This was compared to an increased risk after
eight drinks for men who did not flush. Experts believe this may be
due to a faulty gene that leads to both flushing and high blood
pressure when breaking down a substance in alcohol.

The study looked at 1,763 adult men; however it did rely on men’s
self-reporting of drinking and flushing, so it suffers from some
unreliable elements. 

Painful Earlobes Can Be the Sign of an Outer Ear Infection

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and
Neck Surgery Foundation in 2014, one in 123 people in the United
States suffer from Acute Otits Externa or "swimmer's ear" every
year. This is an infection of the outer ear.

With this condition, the outer ear includes the earlobes, and
symptoms of this condition include intense pain, inflammation in the
earlobes and around the ear, itching, and a feeling of fullness in the
ear. The condition is caused by bacteria that increase when water
becomes trapped in the ear canal – hence the name “swimmer’s ear”.

Check Your Earlobes for Inflammation of the Ear Cartilage

If you earlobes are painful, it could also be the sign of inflammation
of the ear cartilage. This results in swelling, redness, pain, and
inflammation in the outer ear.

Cartilage is the material that gives your ear shape. But it can be easily
damaged since it does not have its own blood supply. When the
cartilage becomes inflamed it can cause a misshapen earlobe or so-
called “cauliflower ear”.

Inflammation could be caused by ear piercing, cuts to the ear,
trauma, complications during surgery, or a rare condition called
polychondritis (relapsing polychondritis). It can be treated with
antibiotics, other medications, abscess draining, or surgery.

Earlobe Shape Could Be Affected by Cosmetic Surgery

Earlobes can be misshapen as a result of cosmetic surgery, resulting
in a condition known as “pixie ear”. A 2013 study from the Division
of Plastic Surgery at the University of California Davis Health System,
Sacramento states that pixie ear is where “the ear lobe is pulled
inferiorly” and occurs during a face lift operation when there is
increased tension on the earlobe. There are techniques, the
researchers suggest, that can be used post-operatively to minimize
the risk of pixie ear occurring.

A 2015 study from Total Charm Clinic in Tbilisi, Georgia studied a
modified facelift technique used on 24 patients that helped prevent
the development of pixie ear.

And What If You Are Missing an Earlobe?

If a person is actually missing an earlobe it could be a signal of
"anotia", which is a birth condition with unknown causes. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that anotia and
microtia are infant ear defects, with anotia happening when the
entire external ear is missing.

Experts are unsure how many people suffer from this condition but
estimate that the number of babies affected is between 1 in 10,000
live births and about 5 in 10,000 live births.































































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A diagonal crease in your earlobes
indicates a high risk for heart disease
.
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