Cold hands and feet are common. The symptoms are not severe enough for them to go to the doctor for most people but annoying and worrying they are. Especially when the problem occurs frequently and seems to be too long (unprotected) exposure to the cold. Not directly cause an impaired blood circulation than often plays a role. But fluctuating hormones or an underlying disease can cause cold hands and feet.
Cold hands and feet come in all ages. Women are more often affected than men. In over a third of women, the problem is even very frequently. Cold hands and feet are usually caused by a poorer circulation. The symptoms do occur mainly at a lower temperature. The blood vessels in the skin constrict and less blood flows to the surface (skin) of your body. In this way, less heat is lost. Some people are too strong or too long draw the blood vessels together. The blood flow to your hands and feet, then takes off too much and they are cold.
Cold hands and feet due to poor circulation
The circulatory system is the circulation of blood through the body through the veins and into the heart. Poor circulation can be the result of a disease of the (stroke) veins. The wall of the veins may ignite or thicken. The vein itself can (partially) block or narrowed by example, a blood clot, cholesterol, fat or nicotine. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict, and the viscosity of the blood increases. Fats and cholesterol attach itself to the wall of the vein, making it slowly from clogging up. High cholesterol levels in the blood can be caused by improper nutrition, but also for example diabetes. Diabetics also have abnormally high blood sugar levels, causing the arteries to constrict extra. Prolonged standing (varicose veins), obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and high blood pressure increase the risk of blood clots in the veins. In severe cases, medical conditions (stroke) arteries can lead to heart problems (angina or heart attack), stroke or TIA. Signs of poor circulation include cold hands and feet, cramps in arms or legs, stiffness, tingling or weakness in the limbs and varicose veins. If blood flow problems persist longer time, discoloration of the skin and hair loss may occur.
Cold hands and feet (discoloration) by underlying disease
In some people the cold hands and feet accompanied by discoloration of fingers and toes for example. In many cases there is then a chilblain. The smaller vessels do not respond well to temperature changes. Let the superficial blood vessels, when you are in a cold environment, less blood. This is a normal reaction of the body. The skin gets fed so less blood, so there is less heat loss. The temperature of your skin layer, then the blood vessels open up again and can quickly heat up the skin. At chilblains remains slightly deeper blood vessels, however, long closed. The smallest blood vessels respond by maximum open position. As a result, complaints of: extremely cold hands and feet with red to dark places. The spots glow, tingle, itch and hurt. Sometimes, blisters, sores or wounds on the toes or fingers, occasionally even ignite due to a bacterial infection significantly. The sites generally resolve within a few weeks by it again. The exact cause of chilblains is largely unknown. Heredity, smoking and the use of certain drugs may play a role. Occasionally the disease is caused by an underlying vascular disease. A well-known example is the phenomenon or Raynaud’s disease.
About 5 to 20% of the people suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon. These small arteries withdraw by cold or emotional sometimes suddenly together. Reduces blood flow to the feet and hands above this. The toes and fingers are first white and cold. Due to the lack of oxygen, they then blue. If the blood flow is restored, the feet and hands red and tingling. A clear cause often cannot be found. Sometimes Raynaud’s phenomenon due to the use of certain drugs (e.g. beta-blockers), sustained oscillations (e.g. by drilling or chain) or a heavy load on the fingers (e.g. typists and pianists). In a small minority of cases there is a more serious underlying disease (such as arteriosclerosis, small blood clots or an autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissue). Relatively mild attacks, no underlying cause, are the most common. Treatment is not necessary in that case.
Acrocyanosis is blue or red-purple discoloration of the hands and feet (and sometimes the nose, ears and lower jaw). The body parts feel cold and clammy, and worse, by the cold. The cause is probably a reduced blood flow to the hands and feet by the contraction of the small blood vessels. Acrocyanosis may occur by itself, but can also be a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. Examples include Raynaud’s phenomenon, coronary heart disease, anemia, and anorexia nervosa. A few times acrocyanose a side effect of certain medications (such as tricyclic antidepressants). Acrocyanosis is a common condition.
Hormonal causes of cold hands and feet
More than half of women between 15 and 50 years have a greater or lesser degree of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is an umbrella term for symptoms that occur when just before menstruation. The most likely cause of PMS is that the equilibrium between the female hormones estrogen and progesterone is absent in the 2nd week of the cycle. The progesterone levels usually remain low, increasing the number estrogens keep the upper hand. The symptoms that go with it are: cold hands and feet, bloating, swollen breasts, weight gain, and headaches. But also psychological symptoms such as mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, nervousness and irritability are common. Almost all women with PMS to vitamin B6 are found to have a deficit. These include vitamin is involved in the production of serotonin, a hormone that fights depression and anxiety. The serotonin levels in women suffering from PMS are too low, which may explain the psychological symptoms. Characteristic of the premenstrual syndrome is that the symptoms disappear immediately after menstruation and a symptom-free period of at least 7 days following. There are many different treatments possible with PMS, ranging from diets, hormone treatments and medications to (in extreme cases) the removal of the uterus and ovaries.
In an under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) creates a deficiency of thyroid hormones in the body. The cause is in the vast majority of cases located in the thyroid gland itself (primary hypothyroidism). The thyroid gland is not able to make. Enough thyroid hormones occasionally there is a disorder of the pituitary gland (which regulates the functioning of the thyroid gland) or the hypothalamus (the pituitary gland regulates mostly). Hypothyroidism is usually caused by Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland becomes inflamed. The thyroid determines the rate at which place all the processes in our body. In an under-active thyroid gland which processes are too slow. The result is include cold hands and feet, dry, cool pale skin, fatigue, slowness in thinking and acting, constipation, obesity, hoarseness, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, concentration problems and depression. About 10% of people suffering from hypothyroidism.
Measures against cold hands and feet
Cold hands and feet can also be (simply) caused by tight (hand) shoes. The blood cannot flow through optimal. The same applies when you are sitting in the same position for too long or state. Due to lack of exercise are insufficient blood flow and the hands and feet cold. Custom-made orthotics can also lead to cold feet because the foot can move too little.
Having cold hands and feet is usually a relatively harmless phenomenon. However, if the symptoms are very annoying or worsen, or if – besides the cold hands and feet – other symptoms occur, it is wise to go to the doctor. In most cases, however, it is sufficient in order to stimulate blood circulation. Additional More exercise and walk more often increases the risk of warm hands and feet. Also wool socks improve circulation. Synthetic socks are just a negative effect. Finally, can a regular massage, contrast baths and wearing properly fitting (hand) shoes reduce the symptoms.