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Now that we are approaching Winter with our first Nor’easter behind us, keeping warm in the chilly weather is a number one priority. So we pull out our boots, our fuzzy socks, coats, gloves, and scarves to bundle up every time we step out. However, it is likely that you are still familiar with the expression, “having cold feet.” In this case, not in reference to a case of the nervous jitters before a big decision, but to actually having cold feet. Besides the dropping temperatures outside, there are a multitude of underlying causes that may be afoot when an extra pair of socks just isn’t enough.

Your feet can get cold because your warm blood is not circulating properly through the veins and arteries into your legs and out to your toes. The skin temperature around your feet and toes should be between 75° F to 90° F and if it drops below 65°F, you may have a problem with your vascular or circulatory system. There are various external factors that can lead to reduced blood flow in addition to circulatory disorders such as Raynaud’s disease, Buerger’s disease, and Coarctation of the aorta. External factors may include extreme stress or bad habits such as smoking. A great deal of stress can cause the nerves to constrict the smaller arterioles in your feet and reduce blood flow. Smoking also leads to cold feet because the nicotine in cigarettes makes your blood vessels tighten up as well. Since nicotine works on your entire nervous system, it affects the arterioles in your feet as well as other areas.

To avoid cold feet, never wear constricting undergarments, like stockings or underpants that are too tight or that cut into the tops of your legs, and try not to cross your legs when you are sitting down. Exercise can definitely improve your circulation and warm your feet. So get out there and start walking!

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