You like the feel of nice warm slippers and fuzzy blankets against cold skin, especially if your feet feel chilly. But if you’re always wondering, “Why are my feet cold?” – the low temperature in your lower extremities might be concerning.
If your cold feet are causing discomfort, warming your skin in a bath or putting on some comfy warm socks may help your entire body feel warmer.1,2 If this doesn’t work, a doctor can tell you if circulation problems, or a more serious condition, are the cause of your cold feet.
Why are My Extremities at a Lower Temperature than My Upper Body?
Your blood vessels carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body, including your internal organs, muscles, and connective tissues. Experiencing cold extremities, like in your feet and toes, is common, and it may not be a cause for concern so long as your core temperature is normal.3
However, a cold foot could also be a symptom of several conditions – some mild, and some more serious.
If you have a condition that impacts your blood flow, you’re likely to experience cold feet as well as other symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and to ensure that your feet are well cared for.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which peripheral arterial blood vessels, or arteries that travel away from your heart, become narrow and impede blood flow. Symptoms of this artery disease include cold feet and pain or tiredness in your legs and hips. Narrowed peripheral blood vessels could be the reason.4
Certain medications, like beta blockers, may make your feet feel cold all the time.5
Diabetes can sometimes lead people to experience a form of nerve damage that will lead them to a cold feeling in their feet.6
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is the foot version of carpal tunnel syndrome, and can make your feet feel cold. It happens when a nerve in your foot becomes compressed.7
It’s not uncommon to feel cold in one or more foot, especially when temperatures are colder. But if your find your cold feet don’t ever warm up, you should talk to your doctor about your blood circulation.
How Peripheral Neuropathy Can Lead to Cold Feet
Your nerves carry signals throughout your body, telling you when you’re in pain and when you’re hot, cold, or just right. Coldness in an extremity, like your foot, can be caused by nerve damage.
Peripheral neuropathy refers to a tingling sensation that occurs in extremities, like the feet, toes, or hands, when nerve damage has occurred. In addition to cold hands and feet, you may also experience pain or a tingling sensation on your skin.
There are numerous possible causes of peripheral neuropathy, including poor blood flow due to build-up of plaque in your blood vessels, hormonal imbalances, drug side effects, or serious diseases. High blood pressure is often a factor.
A doctor can diagnose peripheral neuropathy after reviewing your medical history and running special tests. It’s rare for peripheral neuropathy to be genetic.
You may need to explore medications, braces, lifestyle changes, or even surgery to ease your peripheral neuropathy. Your doctor can advise you on what might work best for your situation.8
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Be To Blame
Hormones regulate how your body functions, and your thyroid gland is responsible for releasing them. However, if your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, you may suffer from something called hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is more common in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, as well as people older than 60, or people who have a family history of hyperthyroidism.9,10
Hyperthyroidism slows your metabolism down. This means that without healthy thyroid hormone levels, your cells produce less energy.11
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling tired, gaining weight (even when you eat less and don’t feel hungry), and feeling cold all the time.
You may also experience a lower temperature in your extremities, like your legs, feet, and hands.12
If you have an underactive thyroid, your doctor can prescribe medications for you.13
Keep in mind, hypothyroidism affects people differently. You might have many symptoms, or just a few (like cold legs and toes). Only your doctor can determine if you have an underactive thyroid.
Do My Legs and Feet Feel Cold Because of Anemia?
If you suffer from a common blood disorder known as anemia, you’re likely to experience cold in your feet and other extremities.
Anemia is the most common blood disorder in the U.S. It occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells or has other problems with healthy blood flow, and is unable to transport enough oxygen through your blood vessels. This can cause cold feet.
In addition to cold legs and hands, if you are anemic you may also experience weakness, dizziness, chest pain, headache, difficulty catching your breath, and an irregular heartbeat.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments, you may be at a higher risk of developing anemia.14
As it turns out, there are many different forms of anemia with different causes. Your doctor can determine what caused your anemia and recommend the right way to improve your circulation.
An Early Warning
When you’re out in cold weather, it’s not unusual for your feet to feel cold. Everyone experiences this from time to time. But if you regularly have cold feet, even when there’s no cold air, it might be time to see your doctor.
Because your legs, feet, and toes are so far from your heart and other vital organs, they’re often the first place where trouble will show up. When it comes to treating serious conditions, you’ll only get off on the right foot if you get proper treatment.
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