health

Cold Hand and Foot Remedies - What to Do

Feeling cold in the hands and feet is a widespread sensation, especially for the female sex.

Cold hands and feet can be a discomfort linked to the greater sensitivity to environmental cold. In other less frequent cases they represent very specific pathological symptoms.

From a physiological point of view, cold hands and feet are the result of a phenomenon called vasoconstriction or vasospasm. Simply put, the body counteracts atmospheric cold by reducing the blood supply to the suburbs, so as to reduce the loss of body heat.

Cold hands and feet are often associated with:

  • Pallor: loss of color due to reduced blood flow.
  • Reduction: reducing the volume of circulating blood also reduces the thickness of the soft tissues. It is evident in the fit of the shoes for the feet and of the rings for the hands.

What to do

  • Quit smoking: nicotine has a vasoconstriction effect.
  • ONLY in the case where the external temperature to which it is subjected is not excessively low, it is possible to drink half a unit of alcohol (about half a glass of wine); better if not on an empty stomach.
  • Cover the ends of the body more with garments made of special material, preferably thermal.
  • Dress comfortably, not tight: often hands and feet become cold due to the pressure of shoes, gloves, trousers or shirts (the last two can tighten on the thigh, calf, arm or forearm ). This phenomenon is physical in nature and represents a vasoconstriction that sometimes touches hemostasis (blockage or significant slowing of circulation).
  • Stretch and move your fingers and toes periodically to reactivate blood circulation.
  • Pay more attention to the practice of sports and activities that can over-sensitize the extremities of the body. For example:
    • Scuba diving in the winter and spring months: water conducts heat more effectively than air. Especially the feet suffer, further compressed by the fit of the fins. Furthermore, pressure promotes peripheral vasoconstriction and increases diuresis (with consequent dehydration).
      • Furthermore, during prolonged dives involving numerous dives in apnea (several hours) it is essential to find ways to urinate out of the suit. Some solutions for males are:
        • External catheter (adhesive around the penis and communicating outside with a small rubber tube).
        • Duck's beak (similar to a neoprene condom with a hole at the top).
        • Periodic stops; on the other hand they expect to undress outdoors (they can be counterproductive).
    • Cycling: hands and feet are deprived of blood, which is concentrated in the muscles of the thigh and in the buttocks. Moreover, forced wind air cools the body faster.
  • Thanks to a correct diet, to prevent / cure some discomforts or metabolic complications with a predominantly nutritional etiology:
    • Low pressure:
      • See Low Pressure Remedies.
    • Anemia.
      • See Anemia Remedies.
    • Dehydration.
      • See Dehydration Remedies.
  • In the presence of other symptoms, seek medical attention to rule out the possibility of an illness:
    • Raynaud's syndrome: mainly affects women aged 20 to 40 years. Other symptoms related to hands and feet are:
      • Bluish color.
      • Soreness.
      • Numbness.
      • Sometimes tremors.
    • Hypothyroidism: impaired function of the thyroid gland. Other related symptoms are:
      • Chronic weakness.
      • Unjustified weight gain.
    • Peripheral atheropathy: vasoconstriction caused mainly by atherosclerosis (secondarily by thrombus and emboli, instead responsible for total and acute obstruction, therefore more serious). Other related symptoms are:
      • Erectile dysfunction.
      • Intermittent lameness.
  • In case of positive diagnosis, treat the disease in question:
    • For Raynaud's syndrome:
      • Pharmacological therapy: the type of molecule varies according to the etiology (primary or secondary Raynaud).
    • For hypothyroidism:
      • Drug therapy: replaces the missing hormones.
      • Dietary iodine supplementation (if hypothyroidism is a nutritional cause).
      • In case of cancer, toxic goiter, nodules etc., surgery may be necessary.
    • For peripheral atheropathy:
      • Drug therapy: in the case of clots, a drug is administered that prevents or dissolves them. It is a very rare eventuality.
      • Surgery, if atherosclerosis is very serious.
  • In the case of drug therapy with beta-blockers, the doctor may choose to change the type of drug to reduce the side effect of cold hands and feet.

What NOT to do

  • Smoking: nicotine has a vasoconstriction action and can worsen the feeling of cold hands and feet.
  • To exceed with alcohol: since alcohol has a vasodilator effect and inhibits sensory perception, some people tend to drink excessively in order not to feel the cold. This is wrong and dangerous, especially in the presence of cold temperatures: prolonged vasodilation can cause excessive heat dissipation. Sometimes the rebound effect occurs, with vasoconstriction following the reduction of alcohol in the blood and consequent worsening of cold hands and feet. Moreover ethyl alcohol promotes dehydration and blood volume reduction.
  • Handle very cold objects with bare hands.
  • Keep hands, feet and fingers immobile for long periods of time.
  • Walking barefoot on stone floors.
  • Donate blood or have blood drawn (this is especially true in case of low blood pressure, anemia or dehydration).
  • Wrap the ends excessively.
  • Underestimate particular conditions such as: underwater activities, exposure to drafts etc.
  • Keep beta-blocker therapy if your doctor suggests trying an alternative medicine
  • Do not cure diseases or discomforts potentially responsible for cold in the hands and feet. For example: anemia, low blood pressure, dehydration, Raynaud's syndrome, hypothyroidism and peripheral atheropathy.
  • Neglecting any side effects of drug therapies. For example, in the treatment of Raynaud's syndrome with nifedipine, may appear:
    • Edema of hands and feet.
    • Headache.
    • Hot flashes.
    • Dizziness.

What to eat

  • Hot peppers and foods that contain it: the capsaicin of the chili has a vasodilating effect.
  • In case of anemia, follow a diet rich in:
    • Iron, above all bioavailable (heme and ferrous).
    • Folic acid.
    • Vitamin B12.
    • C vitamin.
  • In case of low blood pressure, follow a diet rich in:
    • Water.
    • Potassium and sodium.
    • Licorice (thanks to the glycerine content which increases the pressure).
    • Foods containing carbohydrates, in small but frequent portions.
  • In case of dehydration: consume mainly foods rich in water, carbohydrates and minerals (especially potassium).

NB . Certain minerals (especially iron) can complex with antinutritional agents, such as oxalic acid, phytic acid and tannins, inside the intestine; consequently they are not absorbed. Therefore it is advisable not to exceed with the fibers and with the raw foods that abound in these molecules (bran, raw legumes, rhubarb, spinach, etc.).

NB . Some vitamins are thermolabile (vitamin C and folic acid) and degrade with cooking. To ensure its supply it is advisable to eat most of the foods that contain them in a raw form.

What NOT to Eat

  • Coffee: caffeine is a vasoconstrictor.
  • In case of anemia: avoid following a diet based exclusively on cooked foods and limiting foods rich in anti-nutritional agents. Also avoid ethyl alcohol.
  • In case of low blood pressure, avoid:
    • Long fasts.
    • Ketogenic diets.
    • Diets poor in water and minerals.
    • Alcoholic beverages.
  • In the event of dehydration, avoid:
    • All preserved products.
    • Ethyl alcohol.
    • Stimulants: caffeine etc.
    • Diuretic medicinal plants (eg dandelion and asparagus).

Natural Cures and Remedies

  • Ethyl alcohol: small doses of alcohol can contribute temporarily to the reduction of cold hands and feet.
  • Herbal Remedies:
    • Ginko biloba leaves.
    • Hot pepper.
  • In the case of hypothyroidism with a nutritional base:
    • Iodine (mineral), selenium and amino acid supplements L-tyrosine: these are the substrates necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  • In case of anemia: iron supplements, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.
  • In case of low pressure:
    • Chewing licorice root sticks.
    • Supplements of water, glucose and mineral salts (for example those for sports).
  • In the event of dehydration:
    • Supplements of water, glucose and mineral salts (as above).
  • Some suggest supplementing with plants or active ingredients that could improve the elasticity of blood vessels (capillarotropes). There is no scientific basis to support this hypothesis.

Pharmacological care

  • Pharmacological therapy for Raynaud's syndrome:
    • Calcium channel blockers: for example nifedipine (as Adalat®).
    • Alpha blockers: eg doxazosin, terazosin, tamsulosin, alfuzosin, etc.
    • Vasodilators: for example hydralazine, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, potassium channel activators, nitroderivatives with vasodilatory action, antagonists of slow calcium channels, etc.
  • Drug therapy for hypothyroidism:
    • Replacement hormone: it is based on Levothyroxine sodium (eg Eutirox ®, Syntroxine ®, Tiracrin ®, Tirosint ®), Liothyronine sodium (eg Liotir ®, Titre ®) etc.
  • Drug therapy for thrombi and emboli:
    • Antiplatelet, anticoagulant, thrombolytic drugs: they act with different mechanisms but all have the function of avoiding the obstruction of the vessels. For example: salicylates (such as Aspirin ®), Dipyridamol (as Persantin ®), clopidogrel (as Plavix ®) etc.

Prevention

Prevention of cold on the feet and hands contains most of the precautions mentioned above. In summary:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Don't overdo it with caffeine.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, only on a full stomach and never during exposure to very cold temperatures.
  • Ensure protection from the cold.
  • Promote circulation.
  • Pay attention to clothing and other important details when carrying out special activities carried out in the cold.
  • Preventing unfavorable metabolic conditions such as anemia, low blood pressure and dehydration.
  • Treating responsible diseases such as: Raynaud's syndrome, hypothyroidism and peripheral atheropathy.
  • Follow a correct and balanced diet, avoiding fasting.

Medical Treatments

There are no medical treatments aimed at improving cold hands and feet. The only exceptions refer to the treatment of primary diseases, such as atheropary surgery.