Having cold feet is normal, especially during the winter months. But it is not always the weather that leads to cold feet. The reasons can vary from extrinsic factors like the surrounding environment, or intrinsic ones like human physiology or some health condition. So in case you too have cold feet and are wondering what the reason could be, here is all that you need to know.
Below Dr Dhananjay Gupta, director, orthopaedic surgery, Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj suggests a few factors and remedies.
Extrinsic: Reduced surrounding temperature, whether normal or man-made, causes constriction of peripheral vasculature to save body heat loss by restricting circulation. This is quiet an effective way to make us survive in cold environment.
Intrinsic: High stress or anxiety causes release of adrenaline into circulation, which in turn leads to peripheral blood vessel constriction.
Circulation issues: There is decreased circulation to distal parts of the body, which can lead to cold hands and feet. There is a wide array of causes responsible for decreased circulation, like sedentary lifestyle, heart conditions that can lead to decreased cardiac output, tobacco smoking, and atherosclerosis.
Anemia: This leads to decreased oxygen supply to body parts resulting in decreased metabolic activity at cellular level.
Raynauds disease: This is a condition which leads to spasms arterioles in cold temperature.
Nerve disorders: Causes for nerve damage are either external (injury, trauma, burns, frostbite) or internal (liver or kidney diseases, nutrient deficiency, infection). These patients also have additional symptoms of nerve damage.
Diabetes mellitus: It’s a dual edged sword, on one hand it causes narrowing of blood vessels, on the other is also responsible for nerve damage.
Hypothyroidism: Thyroid hormone is responsible for control circulation, heartbeat and body temperature regulation. Reduced thyroid hormone level leads to reduced metabolic activity, and in turn to cold hands and feet.
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“Cold hands and feet occur as an isolated entity or associated with other symptoms. Numbness, paraesthesia, sores on weight bearing areas, skin changes (rashes, scales, thick skin), fatigue, weight loss or gain, fever, joint pain are a few of them,” adds Dr Gupta.
Management for a person who does not have any underlying condition contributing to increased susceptibility to cold is directed towards prevention, while for others who may have a predisposing condition, management is directed towards cause per se, approach is to identify the responsible factors and then to manage it accordingly.
Movements: It is one of the easiest ways to warm up. It acts by increasing circulation and in turn the foot and hand temperature. Jumping, running, brisk walking or simply moving around is enough.
Thick socks and slippers: Warm, thick and well insulated socks and shoes should be worn.
Warm water foot baths: Easiest and most effective way, instant relief within 10-15 mins. In addition, heating pads, hot water bottles or room heaters for bed time.
Heating insoles; ideal for people who have outdoor jobs. They are battery operated and chargeable.
Prevent crossing your legs for long while sitting.
Exercise on regular basis as it enhances blood flow and is an effective way to prevent cold hand and feet.
Traditional home remedies like rubbing of hands and feet with onion, or bathing in potato water is an effective way to improve circulation.
Replace salt and pepper in your diet with cayenne pepper. Cayenne is known to increase peripheral blood circulation.
Decrease consumption of tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks as they are known to decrease peripheral circulation.
Add freshly chopped garlic to your diet, as garlic is known to improve heart health.
Add fresh ginger to your diet as it increases peripheral circulation.
Incorporate vitamin C and bioflavanoids: Bioflavonoids increase the absorption as well as effect of vitamin C. Eat fruits rich in this like citrus fruits, berries, rose hips, grape fruit paprika, apricots.
“Problem in preventing or treating cold feet in winters lies in being unable to identify the exact cause responsible. Most of the times a patient neglects the cause and takes cold feetto be a normal phenomenon until it starts showing complications,” says Dr Gupta.
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