Are your hands and feet always cold?

Are your hands and feet always cold?

If you’ve noticed your hands and feet are chronically cold, you may need to make some lifestyle changes and possibly even pay a visit to your doctor.

And a recent study took on a topic that could fuel the war between men and women over the office thermostat. The study found that women performed better in warmer temperatures and men performed better when it was cooler.

Having chronic cold hands and feet, though, could be a symptom of poor circulation.

“Poor circulation affects mainly the limbs, but may also present itself as dry, itchy skin, hair loss, shortness of breath, cramps during physical activity, varicose veins, stinging or tingling in your limbs or memory glitches,” says Jennifer Ladwig, a family medicine nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Center in Valders, Wis. “And those are just a few symptoms. Any one of these signs is a prompt to call your medical provider.”

To encourage adequate blood flow, Ladwig suggests the following:

  • Move more often: Sitting for long periods of time hinders the amount of blood passing through your body. Try setting reminders to get up and move every hour. If you’re not sitting for long periods of time, try ramping up your cardio routine to encourage blood flow.
  • Kick the bad habits: Smoking and excessive drinking are common causes of poor circulation, due to the lack of oxygen and toxic chemicals circulating through your body, which damage blood cells.
  • Start eating better: A low-fat, high-fiber diet is one of the best ways to combat poor circulation, while cutting out as many saturated fats as possible. In addition, consuming omega-3 fatty acids promotes cardiovascular health, improving circulation. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and fish oil supplements.
  • Manage your weight: Healthy weight has a lot to do with how well your blood circulates throughout your body. An excess of fat means your heart must work harder to pump blood and nutrients, resulting in high blood pressure. In addition to more physical activity and eating healthier, consider consulting with your medical provider on the best options for weight loss.

While some causes of poor circulation include sitting for long periods of time, poor diet and being overweight, some causes are more serious and should be treated by a medical professional.

“Diabetes, stroke, heart attack and blood clots can cause poor circulation and its symptoms,” Ladwig says. “Also, your body relies on healthy circulation, because it survives on nutrients. Without nutrients, certain body parts are essentially starved and could lead to amputation.”

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Comments

2 Comments

  1. Are your hands and feet always cold?
    By: Brianna Wunsch I am a RD and I would like the author of this article to send me evidence based papers published regarding her dietary recommendations for poor circulation in this article. I believe Hashimito’s is a better explanation of cold hands and feet, or even Raynaud’s sysdrome.
    Deborah Nealon MS, RD, CDE BC-ADM

  2. my hands and feet are always cold.
    My thyroid function tests are perfect, so I do not have Hashimoto’s. I do not have Raynaud’s, nor am I overweight or practice unhealthy eating habits. I understand Jennifer’s advice being directed at suggestions to improve circulation, whether or not she has evidence based publications.
    I also feel that to blame the thyroid for cold hands/feet is a little off. Sometimes there is just no explanation for things. I’m living proof.

About the Author

Brianna Wunsch
Brianna Wunsch

Brianna Wunsch, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Aurora Health with a BA in public affairs from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In her free time, Brianna enjoys living an active lifestyle through biking, hiking and working out at the gym, but even more than that, she especially loves spending quality time with her two cats (Arthur and Loki), son and husband.