A habitual nail-biter died suddenly from heart failure brought on by his habit, an inquest has heard.
John Gardener, 40, had a nail biting problem so severe he contracted a septic infection that spread from his fingers and eventually caused a heart attack.
Gardener’s doctors say he would bite his fingers until they bled. His fingers were so damaged from the habit before his death that they became numb reports New York Daily News.
Gardener’s general physician, Dr. Daniel Vernon, said the his fingers were in “constant poor condition.”
“John’s nails were always in poor condition, and they were often bleeding when he came to the doctors,” Vernon told the Mirror.
Gardener’s problem was likely fueled by his anxiety and depression, which he had in the years leading up to his death. He was diabetic, which made him more prone to infections.
Gardener’s habit became a medical emergency when one of his fingers became infected. Doctors first treated him with intravenous antibiotics but decided the tip of his finger had to be removed.
After his surgery, Gardener showed signs of improvement. But days after his 40th birthday, he had a sudden heart attack. Doctors believe it was caused by the infection in his finger.
Orthopedic surgeon Chye Ng said he was shocked by Gardener’s death.
“The passing of John Gardener was really upsetting and shocking for all of the team,” he said.
John’s mother, Jean Gardener, was in disbelief when she first heard that news that her son had died.
“It was such a tragedy, we’re all in shock,” she said. “It’s really hit our family hard, there could’ve been more done to help him. I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s son — it’s just devastating.”
Serious health risks from biting your nails will horrify you
There’s no doubt that nail-biting is very common — it’s been stigmatized as a bad habit that people train themselves to quit with all different sorts of methods. However, it turns out that the down side of nail-biting extends far beyond grossing out your friends at the dinner table.
Don’t let their small size fool you — your nails actually harbor lots of germs and bacteria, often in the enterobacteriaceae family. In layman’s terms, hidden in the crevice between your nail and your finger, salmonella and E. coli could be waiting to creep into your mouth. When you bite your nails, you’re transferring potentially dangerous bacteria into your vital organs, putting yourself at risk for abdominal pain and/or infection.
The problem doesn’t stop at nails, either. Habitual nail-biters often chomp on the skin around their fingers, too, leaving open cuts and abrasions that could easily pick up even more bacteria or yeast. Yes, this means an unattractive look for your hands, but with enough bacterial buildup, the solution might end up being surgical intervention.
Nail-biters are also at risk for bacterial strains that you would probably never associate with the oral habit — HPV, an often sexually transmitted virus, is common among nail biters. Now that’s scary!
Biting your nails is no picnic for your teeth, either.
“Constant biting can lead to poor dental occlusion,” says Richard Scher, M.D., an expert in nail disorders, “so the biter’s teeth shift out of position or become oddly shaped.”
You’re also at a higher risk of gum disease and infection if you’re a habitual nail biter.
So, if you’re addicted to chewing on your nails, you might want to reconsider the habit — stop putting yourself at risk!
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