It is that time of year when people typically begin to feel the cold, particularly in extremities such as their hands and feet.
While some will cite adverse weather or fluctuations in the bodies temperature as the triggers for this, however, there are other potential causes that are far more serious in their nature, like the ones explained below.
1. Poor Circulation
When people ask ‘why are my hands and feet always cold’, one of the most common answers in poor circulation. This can occur as a result of a sedentary lifestyle and excess smoking, which causes blood vessels to constrict and this reduces the flow of blood to the extremities.
2. Raynaud’s Disease
Despite its relatively obscure nature, Raynaud’s Disease affects 10 million people in the UK alone, with 90% of these being female.
This condition causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to react negatively to cold temperatures or stress, as blood vessels taper and limit the blood supply throughout the body. Another symptom of this may be pale or dusky coloured digits on your hands and feet.
Anemia is another condition that causes extreme, pale skin fatigue, along with cold hands and feet. This often occurs as a result of iron deficiency, which is usually diet-related and restricts the flow of oxygen to your blood cells, organs and tissue.
Subsequently, blood flow subsides and your extremities become colder, and anemia can often lead to Raynaud’s Disease if it is not diagnosed.
Diabetes can also be a core trigger for cold hands and feet, as a combination of poor circulation and high blood pressure make it difficult for blood to reach your extremities.
This can be managed when diagnosed, but if not, your symptoms will get progressively worse over time.
Why Are My Hands and Feet Always Cold, and What Can I Do About It?
Remember, it is perfectly normal for your extremities to be cold during the winter, but constant or persistent discomfort may highlight a wider health issue. The triggers for cold extremities are extremely diverse in their nature, however, while they are also complex and potentially debilitating.
This means that it is always advisable to seek out medical consultation if the issue persists for months and beyond the season of winter, in order to determine the precise cause and a viable course of action.
In the meantime, here are some steps that you can take to manage your symptoms and keep your extremities as warm as possible:
1. Increase your Consumption of Omega 3
During studies of those who suffer with Raynaud’s Disease, it was discovered that fish oil supplements helped to improve blood flow to the extremities. By increasing your intake of Omega-3 and eating at least two fish dishes each week (one of which should be oily), you can keep your hands and feet warmer over a sustained period of time.
If you are a vegetarian you should look to eat Omega-3 enriched eggs, while vegans can consume foods rich in alpha linolenic acid such as soy, tofu and walnuts.
2. Wear Protective Gloves and Socks
While this may sound obvious, wearing protective gloves and socks can help to keep your hands and feet warm whatever the weather.
Remember, hands and feet are subject to conductive cooling at all times, while the latter often sweat and this can eradicate heat at a rate of 25%. So, protective and moisture resistant gloves and socks help to retain heat and keep your hands and feet warm.
3. Stop Smoking and Live a More Active Lifestyle
We have already discussed how smoking restricts blood vessels and prevents the flow of blood to the extremities, so looking to cut back on your nicotine intake (or eliminate it entirely) can help your body to regulate the temperature of your hands and feet.
Living a more active lifestyle also helps, however, as this offsets the risks posed by ‘sitting disease’ (where excess levels of inactivity can trigger heart disease, diabetes and extremely cold extremities. Women are particularly vulnerable to this, but a regular and sustainable exercise regime can help to avoid such conditions.
4. A Healthy Supply of Iron in Your Diet
By ensuring that you have a healthy supply of iron in your diet, you can minimise the risk of cold extremities by restricting your chances of contracting anemia and Raynaud’s Disease.
Both men and women need to consume 10 mg or iron on a daily basis to remain healthy, although females who are pregnant may need to take up to 30 mg. Iron can be found in green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and Swiss Chard, along with soybeans, lentils and sesame seeds.
Hopefully, these steps will help you to cope with the issues posed by cold extremities. If the problem persists, however, be sure to seek out expert medical opinion so you need never again ask yourself ‘why are my hands and feet always cold?’