Healthy Living

Cold feet could indicate deeper medical condition

Monday, August 26, 2013

Some people suffer from cold feet, and it's got nothing to do with their nerves. It's annoying to have a bed partner with cold feet. But it's no fun to be the one with the one with the icy toes.

While it's usually not something to be concerned about, doctors say cold feet could be a sign of a serious medical condition.

It could be 101 degrees in the San Fernando Valley, but Ida Oganesyan's feet still feel icy to the touch.

"Since I was a little kid I've had cold feet," says Ida.

But lately, having cold feet has been keeping Ida up at night.

"So that's why I went in to see if there might be a thyroid issue," says Ida.

"If you have a low thyroid then definitely you can have some temperature issues. You can feel colder," says Dr. Isaac Vielma of the Brandman Center for Senior Care.

An underactive thyroid gland is a common cause. Dr. Vielma says occasional cold feet is probably nothing to worry about, but if it's chronic, it can certainly be a sign of something more serious.

"As we age there's more chronic illnesses that can occur, and so usually we will see it more in the elderly," says Vielma.

Some people with cold feet could be suffering from peripheral neuropathy. It's an underlying sign of nerve damage caused by diabetes, exposure to toxins, infections and vitamin deficiencies.

People with poor circulation may have a condition that shouldn't be ignored.

"There is a condition called peripheral arterial disease and that can continue to progress as a chronic illness, so if not taken care of by a medical professional, there could be long-term damage," said Vielma.

But experts say that most of the time having cold feet is nothing to worry about. Wearing socks helps, but Dr. Vielma say a hat may be better.

"We lose a lot of our core temperature, our body temperature, from our head, and so wearing a hat can help keep our core temperature to a degree that we would feel more comfortable," said Vielma.

Ida is still waiting to hear what's causing her cold feet. In the meantime, doctors told her to exercise to improve her circulation.

"At least 30 minutes a day is what the doctor recommends, at least three to five times a week, it usually helps," says Ida.

Why do more women have cold feet than men? Experts say that's because women have thinner skin on their feet.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine, because while both temporarily increase blood flow, they may end up making your extremities lose heat.

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