Do you have cold feet? If so, you may have attributed it to “poor circulation.” What exactly are the symptoms of poor circulation, and how can you treat or prevent it all together?
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Poor circulation has an official name: peripheral arterial disease often shortened to PAD. According to WebMD, PAD affects 8 million Americans. PAD is often caused by atherosclerosis, which also cause strokes and heart attacks. Plaque builds up in the arteries, reducing the blood flow to the limbs.
Symptoms of Poor Circulation
The following symptoms can indicate poor circulation of the legs, or PAD:
- Wounds that heal slowly or poorly
- Legs that are cooler in temperature than arms
- Skin on your legs that is shiny
- Decreased pulses in your feet
- Hair loss on legs
- Legs that have pain, fatigue, or a feeling of heaviness
- Leg muscles that are cramped or uncomfortable
Treating Poor Circulation
If you and your doctor determine that you have poor circulation, it’s important to stop the contributing factors. As a first step, you need to stop smoking and eat a healthier diet. Diet is important because healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, in addition to your weight, tie in with PAD.
There are products available that can help boost circulation by applying gentle pressure to your feet, like compression foot sleeves. A leg elevator can reduce swelling and help you rest more comfortably.
Discuss possible drug therapies, including aspirin to prevent clotting, with your doctor. Severe cases of poor circulation may call for surgery. A physician can give you details on procedures that may be helpful to you.
You’ll be happy to learn that the best treatment for poor circulation is something you have complete control over: exercise. Regular exercise reduces PAD pain and helps improve circulation. Mayo Clinic suggests regular walking to improve blood flow to the legs.
Preventing Poor Circulation
How can you avoid PAD or poor circulation? Many of the things you can do are associated with a healthy lifestyle in general.
Just say no to smoking, because smoking is the number one cause of poor circulation. Smokers are four times more likely than nonsmokers to develop PAD. Avoid secondhand smoke as well.
Eat a healthy diet low in low in saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and sugar. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of poor circulation.
Get moving with an exercise program. Walk around the block, or on a treadmill if the weather is bad. Make sure you have supportive shoes. Ask your doctor for leg exercises you can do several times a week to keep the blood flowing through your veins. Exercise will often help you lose weight as well, and weight loss usually reduces symptoms of poor circulation.