High cholesterol symptoms are not something you are going to notice. In fact they are almost non existent! The real relationship between cholesterol and heart disease kind of forced me to write this article backwards.
The truth is that high cholesterol (let’s call anything beyond about 280 mg/dl high) is itself a symptom of other medical problems. You see, cholesterol is made by the body and used in all sorts of important biochemical reactions, some having to do with healing and the immune system.
Cholesterol also serves as an antioxidant as well, and your body will make more of it when you are faced with any kind of a health crisis or trauma, because it’s part of the protective and healing systems of the body.
So when cholesterol is elevated, it can be an indicator that something is wrong in the body, and that the body is attempting to heal or correct the problem.
Are there any real high cholesterol symptoms?
The answer is yes, although it’s not something that you would feel or notice on a day to day basis. It can show up during an eye examination. Your eye doctor may notice a buildup of cholesterol deposits in your eyes.
This CAN be an indicator of high cholesterol (kind of a “silent symptom”) that is itself, a symptom of other medical problems.
There is a condition that affects the eyes called Arcus Senilis where a white or gray ring develops around the cornea of the eye. It CAN be caused by elevated cholesterol, but not always. The rings come from cholesterol deposits but may be due to a metabolic disorder, rather than very high levels of cholesterol.
If you notice these rings, of course you should have your eyes checked, but again, this does not mean that you necessarily have a high cholesterol level. You eye doctor may recommend that you see another specialist and have the necessary tests done to determine if indeed your lipid profile (fat levels) are really elevated.
In people over 40, this condition is not all that uncommon, but really isn’t a reason for concern. In younger people it can be due to something called familial hyperlipidemia, which is a genetic condition where the person tends to have high levels of fats in their blood. In any case, if you have this condition, the best strategy is to have an eye exam and a full blood lipid screening.
The bottom line is that Arcus Senilis is a normal occurrence after 40 years of age. It’s nothing to get stressed about, but just follow up and get your blood lipids tested by your doctor. If you are a young person, it may indicate a problem with cholesterol metabolism and again should be checked out and dealt with accordingly.
High Cholesterol Symptoms That Are Silent
Again, try not to think of “high cholesterol” in and of itself as THE problem. For the most part, it’s an indicator that your body is trying to deal with another problem and the elevation in cholesterol is just it’s way of doing so. This is known in medicine as “acquired hyperlipidemia,” which means high blood fats due to some medical condition that is causing elevations in your cholesterol levels.
Your body may increase it’s cholesterol levels in response to health issues like:
- Vitamin-D deficiency
- Hypothyroid (sluggish thyroid function)
- Cushings Disease (which causes chronically elevated cortisol levels)
- Problems with your hormones and metabolism
- Kidney disease
- Alcoholism and alcohol toxicity
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
Obviously these are serious medical conditions and if you have any of these issues, your doctor should be monitoring your blood lipid profile (cholesterol and triglycerides) on a constant basis.
Drugs that Affect Cholesterol Levels
- Estrogen and Corticosteroids (can raise HDL and Triglycerides)
- Oral Anabolic steroids ( lower HDL)
- Birth Control (can raise cholesterol)
- Beta Blockers (can raise triglycerides and lower HDL)
- Thiazide Diuretics (can raise cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Retinoids (can increase LDL and triglycerides)
Of course if you are on any of these medications, you will have to discuss the side effects and risk to benefit ratio with your doctor. Don’t just go off medications without consulting your doctor, because this can have serious consequences.
If you are searching for an healthier or less risky alternative to drugs, that’s great, but you have to do that under the guidance of a physician who knows your medical history and can help you do so safely.
High cholesterol symptoms are a sign that there are important health issues that you and your doctor need to be dealing with. Since most people get routine lipid screenings your doctor should be aware of your lipid profile and it’s implications, but always do your own research and work with your doctor to identify problem areas and find the healthiest solutions you can for them.