Cold feet (and hands)
Cold feet are simply that, cold feet! They are extremely common in all age groups but become more problematic as we age due to a decrease in circulation. Cold Feet mostly occur in the winter months and can lead to chilblains, poor healing and even frostbite. Cold Feet can be troublesome and uncomfortable and even stop you from sleeping at night. As those of us who experience cold feet know, if our feet feel cold then we feel cold.
There are many reasons why some people get colder feet than others, but on the whole cold feet are a result of cold temperature having a constricting affect on blood vessels in our limbs, which will decrease the flow of blood to the hands and feet. When this occurs, our hands and feet may even change colour, first they turn to white, and then if severe enough they may eventually turn blue and be accompanied by feelings of burning, tingling, itching, numbness and pain. This phenomenon is more common in girls toes as they tend to naturally keep their core body temperature at an even temperature at the risk of their limbs as part of a physiological baby protector mechanism.
In addition to cold weather, a poor functioning thyroid, anaemia, Raynauds Disease, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, high blood pressure and poor circulation can also lead to cold feet and hands.
Please note that if your circulation is bad enough, if you notice your feet and legs become discoloured, that they are painful when at rest or when trying to walk short distances, or if you get burning or tingling sensation when sitting still then this may be a sign of poor circulation and medical attention may be required.
The best treatment is prevention. However, if you suspect that you may have an underlying medical reason as to why your feet are getting cold, it is often worth getting it checked out by your local GP or Podiatrist as you may be suffering from one of the aforementioned problems.
What Can I do to prevent Cold Feet?
- Wear warm clothing. Its quite simple, if you feel cold it generally means you're cooling down. It means not only keeping your feet warm but keeping your core warm as well. You may also notice that by warming up your hands, you can often warm up your feet and vica versa.
- Do not smoke. Smoking affects your blood vessels just like the cold does, by causing the blood vessels to constrict (get smaller) so that less blood (and warmth) goes down to your feet. Over the years smoking can lead to something called arteriosclerosis (hardening of your arteries) that can cause long term effects on your feet and a permanent decrease in blood supply to your entire body. The effects are often worse in the feet and legs due to their distance from the heart.
- Eat warm food. Sounds simple but warm food is not only comforting and instantaneously warming, but it also requires less body energy to be digested than cold food leaving more energy to keep you warm.
- Avoid coffee. The caffeine in coffee constricts blood vessels in the feet and legs, causing less blood and consequently warmth to get down to where it is needed. Instead, drink caffeine free tea or coffee as it contains flavonoids which help support blood vessel health.
- Nutritional supplements. Magnesium and some herbs may also help to increase circulation by maintaining the integrity of your blood vessels. It is best to speak to a medical practitioner before starting any new medications or supplements.
- Exercise. What better way to promote better circulation to your feet than a nice long walk or some exercise, just make sure you don't go walking around with bare feet on wet grass or splashing around in puddles or you might find your feet are colder after the experience.
- Pamper your feet! When all else fails, sit back and soak your feet in some warm water (never hot) and add a few tea spoons of your favourite foot soak or aromatherapy oils.
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