While the old saying goes that the eyes are the windows to the soul, it could also be said, though less poetically, that your feet act as a barometer of your overall health.
Even though it might sound strange, your feet can actually tell you a great deal about what’s going on with your body as long as you know how to listen. Here are a few signals your feet may be giving about your health.
Now that fall has arrived and winter is soon to follow, you might assume cold feet are due to your wool socks not being thick enough. However, cold feet could also be a sign of poor blood flow, a circulatory problem linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, and smoking. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause nerve damage that can make the feet feel cold no matter what the weather or how thick your socks. Anemia and hyperthyroidism are other possible causes of cold feet. Talk to your doctor to determine if you have an underlying problem, or just need to buy thicker socks.
Pain in the Foot
Even though eight out of ten women say the shoes they wear hurt their feet, not all foot pain is due to high heels and uncomfortable flats. Constant foot pain may indicate a small stress fracture in a bone in your foot. Intensive exercise, such as distance running or playing tennis, can cause a stress fracture to occur in your foot without you immediately realizing the injury. If you routinely wear uncomfortable shoes, you might just associate the pain from your broken foot to the shoes you wear. If your foot pain persists even when wearing a pair of bunny slippers around the house, talk to your doctor about whether you need an x-ray.
A change in how you walk can occasionally be one of the first signs of a problem with your health. Whether you notice yourself slightly dragging one foot or taking a wider gait, you may be experiencing a loss of sensation in your feet due to peripheral nerve damage. While roughly 30 percent of cases involving peripheral nerve damage is related to diabetes, nerve damage can also be caused by vitamin deficiency, infection, or alcoholism. However, in many cases, the cause of nerve damage is unknown.
Clubbing refers to a change in the shape of the toes, and frequently fingers. In cases of club toes, the nails become more rounded on top and begin to curve downward. This causes your toenails to appear slightly more dome-like in appearance. The most common underlying cause of this condition is a lung disease, but a number of infections, digestive disorders, and liver or heart disease can also cause clubbing. In some instances, clubbing is an inherited trait that gets passed down without there being any underlying condition.
In most instances, swollen feet are just a temporary annoyance caused by standing for long periods of time or a lengthy flight, especially for pregnant women. However, instances where feet stay swollen often signify a potentially serious medical condition. Blood clots, poor circulation, or trouble with the lymphatic system can all cause prolonged swelling in the feet. Other causes of swelling include decreased thyroid function and kidney disorder. If you suffer from prolonged swelling, you need to talk with your doctor.
A burning sensation in your feet can signify a variety of serious and not so serious medical problems. Diabetics who suffer from peripheral nerve damage often report experiencing a burning sensation in their feet, while the condition can also be the result of poor leg circulation, athlete’s foot, hypothyroidism, or a vitamin B deficiency. Perhaps most seriously, the condition can signify chronic kidney disease.