Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Cold weather has meant many of us have reached for the heating in recent weeks, and while this may warm our homes – some people are still struggling with the cold. Wrapping up in your cosiest jumper, thermal leggings and extra layers may warm your body but often our extremities are neglected. If you find yourself with icy cold feet more often than not which don’t warm no matter how warm your socks are, it could be a sign of something medical.
Having cold feet is common during the winter months, and usually popping on a pair of fluffy socks, doubling up on socks or reaching for your slippers will solve the problem.
However, for some people having cold feet can indicate a medical issue that should be checked.
There are a range of conditions that can trigger cold hands and feet, and if you are concerned try to make an appointment with your GP.
So why are your feet always cold? Read on for five key reasons.
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Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormones.
These hormones affect nearly all of your organs and help turn food into energy.
If you have hypothyroidism, the lack of hormones may make you feel cold everywhere – including in your feet.
If you suspect you have hypothyroidism, make an appointment with your doctor.
Raynaud’s disease is a condition which means your body overreacts to cold temperatures.
When the weather turns colder you may notice your hands and feet feeling numb and icy cold.
You may even spot your extremities changing colour, often looking pale or even blue before turning red and stinging once they warm up.
Attacks of Raynaud’s can be caused by the cold or even stress and occur because the arteries in your hands and feet narrow due to the cold.
Your doctor can recommend treatments if you notice sores or struggle with numbness – so make an appointment if you are concerned.
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Cold feet can be a complication of diabetes – as having the condition can put you at risk of issues with your feet.
Complications of diabetes which impact your feet can include
If you have peripheral neuropathy, the nerves in your feet have been damaged.
This can cause your feet to feel cold to you, but a normal temperature if you touch them.
Peripheral neuropathy can occur in people without diabetes due to autoimmune disease, lack of vitamins, some medications and alcoholism.
Treatment includes controlling your diabetes, and tackling any pain with specific medication like amitriptyline, duloxetine or pregabalin.
Peripheral artery disease
As ‘artery’ may suggest, peripheral artery disease occurs when there are issues with blood flow.
You may have poor circulation which in turn will make your feet cold.
This can also occur in those who smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent peripheral artery disease as there is no cure.
Lifestyle changes and some medications can help reduce symptoms, such as managing your blood sugar levels if you are diabetic or increasing exercise.
Statins can also be prescribed by your doctor, as can blood-thinning medicines or antihypertensives.
Stress can affect your body in a very physical way, with blood being pumped towards your core and away from your extremities.
This in turn can make you feel cold in your fingers and toes.
If you feel like your stress is hard to manage, speak to your doctor.
High Cholesterol can lead to circulation problems, which again is a cause of cold feet.
This can be due to cholesterol building up in blood vessels, as well as inflammation.
Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, as high levels can cause serious health issues like stroke and heart attack.
How to warm up your feet
If you’re struggling to keep your feet warm, there are a couple of things you can do.
- Find your warmest socks or slippers
- Keep your feet moving
- Stretch your feet regularly if you find yourself sitting still
- Stop smoking
- Lower stress levels
- Lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol and/ or weight
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamins
- Run a hot bath and soak your feet for a few minutes
- Invest in insulated slippers
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