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Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?

by
author image J. Lucy Boyd
J. Lucy Boyd, RN, BSN has written several nonfiction books including "The Complete Guide to Healthy Cooking and Nutrition for College Students." She is frequently called upon to provide career guidance to medical professionals and advice to parents of children with challenges. She also loves teaching others to cook for their families.
Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?
Low cholesterol is not always a good thing. Photo Credit anna1311/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

According to the American Heart Association, a blood cholesterol level of less than 160 milligrams per deciliter is considered low. Taking cholesterol-lowering medications occasionally leads to low cholesterol, also called hypocholesterolemia. Several disorders and conditions also cause hypocholesterolemia. Opinions differ as to whether the condition is harmful in an otherwise healthy adult.

Symptoms

Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?
Hypocholesterolemia manifests as a low total blood cholesterol level. Photo Credit AlexRaths/iStock/Getty Images

Hypocholesterolemia manifests as a low total blood cholesterol level. This may be referred to as low total serum cholesterol. A low LDL cholesterol level and low triglyceride level may also be present. HDL cholesterol may be absent, low, normal or elevated. For some patients, lab work may be the only indicator for hypocholesterolemia. According to an abstract presented at the 2000 International Conference on AIDS, depressed mood is correlated with a blood cholesterol level below 150 milligrams per deciliter in patients with HIV disease who use illicit drugs. A study published in the 2002 issue of "European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience" found that "fasting serum cholesterol levels are low in manic patients, especially during mixed bipolar episodes." One variation of low cholesterol, known as Tangier Disease, has a symptom of orangish-yellow tonsils. The sufferer also has an enlarged liver and spleen.

Causes of Primary Hypocholesterolemia

Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?
Some disorders lower your cholesterol. Photo Credit Marek Uliasz/iStock/Getty Images

If you have "primary hypocholesterolemia," it means that you have a disorder that has the effect of lowering your cholesterol. One type of primary hypocholesterolemia is Tangier disease. It is a genetic disorder characterized by a low or absent HDL cholesterol level and a low total cholesterol level. A second type is familial hypobetalipoproteinemia, a genetic disorder characterized by a low total cholesterol level, low LDL cholesterol level, normal HDL cholesterol level and low triglyceride level. Another type is abetalipoproteinemia, which is a genetic disorder characterized by a low total cholesterol level and low triglyceride level. Each of these disorders is rare.

Causes of Secondary Hypocholesterolemia

Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?
Common examples of secondary hypocholesterolemia include hyperthyroidism, anemia and other chronic infections. Photo Credit Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images

If you have "secondary hypocholesterolemia," it means that you have another disorder that in turn causes your cholesterol level to be low. Common examples of secondary hypocholesterolemia include hyperthyroidism, anemia, various liver diseases, chronic infection, HIV or AIDS and malnutrition, according to the Journal of Peking University Health Sciences.

What to Do if You Have Low Blood Cholesterol

Are There Symptoms of Low Cholesterol?
Discuss possible reasons for low blood cholesterol with your physician. Photo Credit Beau Lark/Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images

If your blood cholesterol level is low, discuss the possible reasons with your physican. She may conduct testing to rule out a primary or secondary undiagnosed disorder. If you are taking cholesterol-lowering medications, the physician may lower the dosage or change the medication. If you feel that your mood is impaired, seek medical advice.

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