Thursday, 27 June 2013

What Your Feet Say About Your Health

Your head and your feet are at the two extreme ends of your body. Because of that, the head, where the mind sits, often overlooks the feet or takes them for granted. After all what do feet have to do except carry around the rest of the body? The fact of the matter is that the feet are a highly undervalued part of the body – foot problems can result in walking difficulty which in turn leads to lack of mobility which can have a major impact on the quality of life. Besides this, the feet offer us a very accurate indication of the condition of the rest of the body, if only we take the trouble to examine our feet carefully. Reflexology, the use of massage and pressure points on the feet to cure problems in other parts of the body, is now a proven and popular treatment option. This is a two way street and we can use the feet to tell us a lot about what is going on in the rest of our bodies.

What Your Foot Tells You
The feet can, in varying degrees, tell us a lot about our general health. There are many theories about what the feet can tell, some proven and some that are almost outlandish in nature, but are still possible. Here are a few of the most common and accepted foot conditions that reveal health issues in the rest of the body.
  • Having no hair on your feet or toes can give your feet a clean and smooth look. But it also indicates the possibility of poor blood circulation, often the result of vascular problems. The lack of adequate blood flow can cause the hair on the feet to fall off.
  • An inability to lift the heel of one or both feet up off the ground is not simply a case of a muscle problem at the heel. It can be caused by nerve or muscle damage originating at a distant point of the body like the neck, shoulders or upper back.
  • If your toes change color in cold weather you need to go in for a checkup. Toes that change color in a cyclical manner starting from white to blue to red before returning to the natural color and then beginning the cycle all over again is a sign of the possibility of Raynaud’s Disease which is not a serious matter in itself. However it can also be a sign that the person experiencing this has an autoimmune disease.
  • Pitted toenails with lots of small indentations or holes in them are a common phenomenon and are often ignored as they are sometimes difficult to see and do not cause any pain or discomfort. However, this can be an indication of the existence of psoriasis or even psoriatic arthritis.
  • A sore on the sole of the foot that will not heal should never be taken for granted. It could be a sign of diabetes. The high glucose levels in the blood cause nerve damage in the feet and this can lead to minor scrapes, irritations and other small injuries not healing within a reasonable period of time.
  • Having the tips of the toes swell to the point where they appear to be inclined upwards at the tip is often put down to the effects of wearing the wrong type of shoes. While this could be a cause, “digital clubbing” can also be a sign of respiratory disease, coronary problems and some gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease.
  • If your toenails have sunken almost spoon shaped depressions on them it could be a sign of anemia, usually a moderate to severe case.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Does Smoking Hurt Your Foot?

We all know that smoking is bad for the health and that it kills thousands of people each year in this country alone. Lung cancer, cardiac disease, strokes and other frightening health problems are all associated with smoking. What is often not appreciated is that while smoking does have these high profile implications, there are also other health problems it can cause that are very serious in their own way. Among them is the effect of smoking on the feet.

From Your Heart To Your Feet – A Long Distance

Your feet are among the most used and least cared for parts of the body. Walking is not an activity that requires thought and so we take our feet for granted. But they carry the entire weight of our bodies, day in and day out and over time, cover thousands of miles. Like all parts of the body, the feet depend on proper blood circulation to keep them nourished and provide them with energy. The circulation is also crucial in the recovery from injuries to the feet. But the heart is a long way from the feet and so even in the best circumstances they are at the end of the supply chain. When you smoke your heart and its ability to circulate blood are affected and the feet that are already at the end of the line suffer even more. One of the most common effects of smoking on the feet is the development of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) which is often caused by smoking and which affects about 8 million Americans.

Understanding PAD

With PAD, layers of plaque build up in the arteries and one of the most affected places are the arteries that run down the full length of the legs to the feet. The plaque causes the arteries to become stiff and clogged, restricting the flow of blood. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PAD often results in pain in the legs and feet while walking and injuries that heal slowly. But often PAD does not show itself in any obvious manner.

People with PAD have a 500% greater chance of dying from health problems resulting from cardiovascular disease and over 600% greater chances of dying from coronary heart disease. With people who smoke, the chances of PAD developing is 400% greater than with those who do not smoke. Additionally, the NIH says that smokers who get this sickness will get it 10 years earlier than if they did not smoke. And for those with diabetes which is already affecting the nerves in the feet and causing problems of sores and injuries that are very painful and heal very slowly, smoking will only act to exacerbate the conditions.

Other Problems

Smoking is known to increase the effects of osteoporosis which affects the growth, healing and strength of the bones in the body. With the feet bearing the load they do every day and being made to undergo a large amount of wear and tear because of misuse, the strength of the bones in the feet is critical to their functioning. When smoking works to weaken the bones here, the chances of suffering serious foot injury involving fractures increases greatly as does the difficulty in recovering from such injuries.

Those who smoke are risking their health and their lives in ways that they cannot even imagine. If the feet can be affected by smoking, no part of the body is immune for damage. If you are a smoker, check your feet carefully. The problems that you find may be the signs of serious health problems and the earlier you stop smoking the better for you body.