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From Diabetes And Anaemia To Hypothyroidism, Know About The Causes Of Cold Feet

Having cold feet is a common symptom caused due to many health and lifestyle factors such as cold temperature and anxiety. This mostly happens when the body restricts blood supply to extremities such as foot or nose to save body heat for other vital organs. The decrease in blood supply results in a decrease in oxygen, which further causes a sensation of cold in the feet, leading to a condition called cold feet. [1]

Cold feet is not only characterised by the coldness in the feet but followed by other symptoms such as numbness, change of skin colour, fever, tingling or needle-like sensation, joint pain, erectile dysfunction, slow healing wounds, muscle weakness, pain and sores on the toes and fingers.

In this article, we will discuss some of the main causes of cold feet along with a few treatment methods. Take a look.

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1. Anaemia

Iron deficiency is the main cause of cold feet or cold intolerance. Iron helps in the making of haemoglobin that binds oxygen and helps transmit them to various parts of the body. Lack of iron decreases the production of haemoglobin and thus, reduces oxygen supply to extremities like feet which results in cold feet. It is prominent in women compared to men. [2]

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2. Diabetes

Diabetics are at increased risk of foot ulcers. According to a study, patients with diabetes often describe their symptoms as abnormal cold sensation in the feet, painful cramps, lancinating pain and other unpleasant sensations such as prickling, tickling or burning in the foot regions. This is because hyperglycemia may cause damage to the nerve fibres and weaken the muscles, affecting small muscles of the feet. [3]

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3. Cold temperature

No doubt, cold temperature is the most common cause of cold feet in healthy adults. When body temperature falls below 98.6°F which is the normal body temperature, the hypothalamus (which is sensitive to blood temperature) restricts blood flow to less important body parts like feet to conserve heat for the brain, heart and other vital organs. [4]

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4. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism or insufficient production of thyroid hormones is an endocrine disorder mainly characterised by cold sensitivity. The thyroid hormone works closely with the nervous system and regulates body temperature. When its production is decreased, even a drop in little skin temperature may cause the blood supply to restrict from the feet, causing cold feet. [5]

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5. Acute Stress

Psychological factors such as acute stress and anxiety can trigger peripheral vasoconstriction, leading to a rapid drop in core body temperature and causing symptoms like cold feet. As stress helps to pump adrenaline hormone into the blood, prolonged stress may decrease blood flow regularly to extremities such as feet. [6]

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6. Raynaud’s phenomenon

In response to cold temperature and emotional stress, Raynaud's phenomenon occurs; which is characterised by coldness and numbness of the toes and other body extremities. The condition can be due to certain underlying conditions such as arthritis or autoimmune diseases. [7]

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7. Smoking

According to a study, a condition called Buerger's disease can be the cause of cold feet which is mainly found in males who smoke. It is a kind of inflammatory disease whose mechanism may involve an association between tobacco hypersensitivity and impaired endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation, leading to cold feet. [8]

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8. High cholesterol

Arteriosclerosis is characterised by narrowing of the arteries due to the collection of cholesterol, fats and calcium thus, resulting in the buildup of plaque. This causes restrictions in blood supply to body parts like legs and gives a sensation of cold feet to a person.

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9. Pregnancy

Pregnancy is characterised by changes in hormones which may affect the autonomic nervous system due to less blood supply to extremities, especially lower ones such as legs. Also, in pregnancy, the core body temperature slightly gets higher which can make the surrounding air feel cool. These changes can cause cold feet in pregnant women. [9]

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10. Certain medications

Certain kinds of medications such as beta-blockers, antidepressants and amphetamines which are mostly used to lower blood pressure, reduce migraine headaches and lower arthritis pain can cause cold feet as a side effect. They constrict the blood vessels and may give a cold sensation to the feet.