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When people comment on your cold hands after shaking hands with you, if your cold feet are noticeable in bed or if you have numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, your circulation is probably poor. When you have poor circulation in your extremities, it means you are not getting enough blood flow. Many problems cause poor circulation, but you can treat the condition in a variety of ways.
Some of the major causes of poor circulation in the hands and feet are Raynaud's disease, peripheral artery disease, peripheral neuropathy and diabetes mellitus. With Raynaud's, the blood vessels narrow, preventing the fingers, toes, ears and nose from getting enough blood. This typically occurs during cold weather or when you are under stress. Narrowed arteries that reduce blood flow are the result of peripheral artery disease, also called PAD, which is usually felt in the legs. Fatty deposits in your arteries that restrict blood flow are a typical cause of PAD. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when there has been nerve damage from an injury, infection or exposure to a toxin. This can cause numbness in the hands and feet. Blood sugar levels are too high when you have diabetes, and this can result in narrowing of the blood vessels. Poor circulation to the skin can lead to ulcers and wounds that are slow to heal.
Improve Blood Flow
Keep your hands and feet warm in the winter by wearing gloves and boots. Avoid smoking because the nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels, which worsens circulation. Good nutrition can help if you have clogged arteries; eat foods low in saturated fat and high in fiber, omega-3-fatty acids and vitamins A, B-6, C and E. Avoid over-the-counter pseudoephedrine, found in many cold and allergy medicines, because it can also restrict blood flow.
Simply wiggling your fingers and toes helps circulation. Massaging your hands and feet also helps. Make wide circles with your arms, windmill fashion, to get the blood to your hands. Flex your feet several times to get the blood moving to your feet. Also, stand on your tiptoes and then roll back on your heels. You can also do this while seated. A hand exercise ball that you squeeze keeps your hands healthy. To create resistance, choose a ball with an elastic band that you wrap around your fingers. You would open your hand all the way and then squeeze the ball, repeating several times per session.
Possible Doctor Suggestions
Your doctor might change your diet and recommend an exercise program if you have a serious condition such as diabetes. You also need to keep your blood sugar under control. To open blood vessels and help heal skin, doctors sometimes prescribe calcium channel blockers. Another drug, pentoxifylline, is available to improve circulation. It makes red blood cells more flexible so they can more easily pass through constricted blood vessels. Your condition might require your doctor to prescribe a cholesterol medication if you have blocked arteries from LDL cholesterol.