If you’re the gal whose hands and feet are always cold, you’re not alone. Countless memes and jokes are based on the fact that women have cold feet and hands, but we don’t have to suffer because of it. Here are the common reasons why and how you can change it.
Disclosure: I’m not a physician, so this post on cold hands and feet is for informational purposes only and to provide common tips for keeping them warm. If, after reading, you decide to consult with your physician, please do so.
When I was in my teens, it was common knowledge for my family members and friends that I was always cold, especially when it came to my hands and feet. They were always a shade of purple, even in summer, and it was embarrassing most days.
Fast forward to the present day when I’m definitely more hot than cold, but I still remember trying everything to keep them warm (Those were the days before the internet, so I couldn’t just hop online for advice.) and would have tried anything.
Here are some common reasons for the chilliness. Please note that many medications can alter your body’s functioning, so I’ve omitted them from this article. For this one, we’ll talk about additional reasons for the chill.
The thyroid, located in your neck, helps your body by making hormones for your body’s organs. These hormones are responsible for turning what you eat and your oxygen intake into energy, which heats up your body. If you have an under-acting thyroid, your hands and feet will not only be freezing, but you’ll be cold all over.
When you’re feeling stressed out, your body goes into survival mode and pushes your blood to its core, thereby lessening the amount of blood in your hands and feet.
Anemia is caused when your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells, or ones that don’t function as well as they should, to work correctly. If that’s the case, they’ll be unable to grab the oxygen from your lungs and provide it to your body, causing you to be cold. In addition to feeling cold, if you feel dizzy, weak, have pale skin, a headache, shortness of breath, or numbness in your extremities, get thee to a doctor stat.
A condition that causes your body to overreact to cold temperatures, you feel numbness in your fingers and toes until they get warm, then it’s a burning sensation. Stress, anxiety, cold temperatures, and even air conditioning can bring about the phenomenon. While it’s a definite inconvenience, Raynaud’s can cause arterial problems, including the narrowing and spasming of the arteries in your hands and feet.
There are two types of Raynaud’s: Primary and Secondary. The first has much milder symptoms, happily. Secondary Raynaud’s hits much harder and can be caused by an underlying condition (think carpal tunnel, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus) and shows up later in life. If you get finger and toe sores, talk to your doctor ASAP.
High cholesterol brings circulatory problems thanks to the formation of plaques on arterial walls. These plaques cause a narrowing of the blood vessels, making it harder to pump blood through them. This strain blockage causes a reduction in blood flow, thereby making you feel cold, especially in your hands and feet.
Not only does diabetes wreak havoc on your body’s ability to regulate sugar levels, it can damage the nerves in your feet. Called peripheral neuropathy, you’ll feel cold but seem warm to the touch. Additionally, peripheral artery disease caused by diabetes can block or slow the blood flow to your lower extremities, making them cold.
Things to Try for Cold Feet and Hands
Here are some easy ways to warm up your fingers and toes without breaking the bank:
Get moving – By moving around and walking, you’ll increase your circulation and help add heat to your extremities.
Lower your stress levels – Try meditation, yoga, and light exercise. I like to listen to spa-style music and do some stretching.
Lower your cholesterol levels by eating a proper diet and taking medication.
Take iron, B12, and folate supplements if it is okay (talk with your doctor first, please, to get the go-ahead).
Wear socks and slippers – I know, it’s obvious.
Wear a hat – this one might sound silly, but if I catch a chill I can’t shake (and I’m not under the weather), I’ll put on a hat for a while. For me, it always works.
Purchase a reusable hand warmer – My daughter’s hands are always cold, so I bought her a USB rechargeable hand warmer. Lightweight and compact, all she has to do is turn it on and wait a minute. She uses it both with and without gloves.
Warm Those Tootsies