Are Cold Hands And Feet Something To Worry About?

Having cold hands and feet fall under the normal changes your body experiences when exposed to winter temperatures or air conditioning. They can also occur during other times without a particularly strong trigger.

"Cold hands and feet are a common complaint," said Natalie Evans, a vascular specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. "But generally, when this happens in young healthy people, it isn’t anything to worry about."

But if you find your hands are turning ice-cold even if there is just a moderate decline in temperature, you may have something known as Raynaud's syndrome. The condition, which is quite harmless, may also exhibit color changes where the skin turns white, blue, or red.

Getting these signs checked out and diagnosed by a doctor is recommended. They may be able to prescribe some form of treatment if you are experiencing troublesome symptoms like hardening of skin or sores (on your fingertips or toes) that are not healing properly.

Those with Raynaud's usually face no problems as long as they take enough measures to protect themselves from the cold i.e. wearing gloves and socks. Not doing so can increase the risk of frostbite.

"Another thing that could happen is spasms," said Melisa Lai Becker, site chief of emergency medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance. "You have these tiny little blood vessels in your fingertips, and if they start to spasm, that makes it difficult for blood to get to your extremities."

In other cases, cold hands or feet could be a symptom of an underactive thyroid gland, also known as hypothyroidism. Keep an eye out for your energy levels as this condition is typically characterized by constant fatigue. If you suspect any such issues with the functioning of your thyroid, a doctor will be able to diagnose it with a simple blood test.

In the case of an older adult, cold feet might be a sign of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition which causes blockage or narrowing of the arteries. You may also experience other symptoms like cramping and abnormal changes in your nails. PAD can also affect people with diabetes or a history of smoking.

In general, chances are that your chilly body parts are absolutely nothing to worry about. Some individuals may simply be prone to these responses without an underlying cause.

"Feeling cold feet or hands when you get into bed just may be who you are, especially if there are no other symptoms," Dr. Evans added.

If you would like to relieve symptoms without medication, you can try moving around more to improve circulation in your hands and feet. Aside from wearing extra layers during winter, other remedies include the use of heating pads or even just soaking your hands or feet in warm water.