“Cold hands, warm heart!” as they say. But even if it indicates a kind and loving personality, that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with constantly-frigid fingers and hands.
Having cold hands in cold weather is expected. However, even when indoors and otherwise warm, having cold hands is a common complaint coming from people of all walks of life.
But why do people get cold hands? Is this something to worry about? Or is it just a minor annoyance to be placated by cute idioms like “cold hands, warm heart!”?
In this post, we’ll be going through reasons why people get cold hands, and solutions to those chilly paws.
So, WHY ARE MY HANDS ALWASY COLD? The Most Common Reason For Cold Hands
More often than not, having cold hands is the body undergoing simple temperature regulation. If you’re in a cooler environment, your body will seek to keep your core warm by drawing blood away from your extremities. Your extremities are the exposed parts of your body – feet, ears, your nose, and hands – as opposed to, say, your organs, which your body will prioritize when deciding what to keep warm.
You might experience a decrease in core temperature even if you are not in sitting in a cold temperature. For example, if you are sitting idly at home or in the office, the lack of physical activity may cause your core temperature to drop. As a response, your body will scramble, and reduce blood circulation to your extremities to keep your vital organs – that is, your brain, heart, liver, kidneys – warm and safe.
The same thing happens when you are anxious: your body tends to redirect your blood flow to the large organs of your body located in your midsection in preparation for the “fight or flight” response, which is the body’s means of protecting itself from harm. So with blood flow becomes restricted from your fingers and toes; no wonder anxiety makes them feel so cold.
Why does your brain prioritize blood flow to certain areas of your body and not others? Well, it reasons that you can live without feet and hands, but not without a heart. In these cases where your core is getting priority for blood flow, your extremities will feel cold. Since hands are commonly left uncovered and are used quite a lot, they are the first body parts you’ll notice getting cold.
It turns out that women’s hands tend to be cooler than men’s by default. Part of the reason could be that women’s core body temperature is higher than men’s, so they need more blood flowing to their core. Women’s slower metabolism compounds the issue. Office temperatures, which were calibrated in the 1960s for a workforce composed of middle-aged men, often leave women feeling cold.
The most common fix to cold hands? Nurse your cold fingers by putting on an extra sweater, gloves or rising the ambient temperature. You’ll get faster results by putting on more layers, including a hat. Within a hour or two of bundling up, you should notice that your hands are feeling back to normal.
Other Reasons Why You MAY HAVE Cold Hands
If your hands are cold and you do not have other symptoms, such as discolored fingers or pain, then the cause is probably the kind of normal temperature regulation we’ve already discussed. Your best bet is going to be to adjust the room temperature and throw on a few extra layers.
However, cold hands can sometimes be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. Here are some examples of conditions that are associated with cold hands as one of their major symptoms.
Named after the French physician who first described it in 1862, Raynaud’s is the quintessential medical condition related to cold hands. The underlying cause is an issue with the body’s small arteries. The finger’s and hand’s arteries are small, and Raynaud’s causing spasms in the body’s small articles. This causes blood circulation towards many extremities to diminish. In addition to colder hands, someone with Raynaud’s Phenomenon will also experience freezing toes, nose, lips, ears, nipples.
If you’ve got Raynaud’s Disease, you will see a stark color change in your extremities and fingers. You should notice your fingers getting extremely pale, even blue and purple. Sometimes, people will start feeling numbness in their fingers, even pain or tingling.
The cause of Raynaud’s is not completely clear, but researchers believe it is a body’s overreaction to cold exposure or stress. Keeping your car or room warm, wearing gloves and sweaters, and using hand warmers are all effective options in preventing a Raynaud’s attack.
You may also want to try relaxation techniques to stave off Raynaud’s attacks. Attacks can be triggered by anxiety or emotional stress. Spire is a device that lets you know when your body is entering a state of stress. This is a good indication that it’s time to take a break and do deep breathing exercises to prevent anxiety.
Raynaud’s Disease usually doesn’t result in anything more severe than bundling up more in cooler environments and a few deep breathing exercises a day. Rarely, Raynaud’s may also cause tissue damage. See a doctor to talk about prevention options.
Diabetes is a condition which affects small nerves and reduces blood flow into small blood vessels. This poor circulation can result in severe damage to your extremities, in rare, severe cases, leading to amputation. If you have other symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination, extreme fatigue, frequent urination, see your health practitioner right away to discuss a treatment plan.
Hypothyroidism is a metabolic disorder. It is caused by an underproduction of a thyroid hormone, which is a hormone essential in raising your metabolism (and therefore body temperature). Hypothyroidism caused by a damaged thyroid, and is most often brought about by a condition called Hashimoto’s disease. In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system attacks and damages the thyroid glands, which decreases the gland’s ability to produce hormones.
As a result, your metabolism is slowed, which causes your body to decrease blood supply to the extremities and recruit forces to the core. Other symptoms of Hypothyroidism include weight gain, depression, fatigue.
Thankfully, hypothyroidism is easy to fix. Doctors most often prescribe artificial thyroid hormone in the form of a daily pill. This often cures all symptoms and restores a person to full health.
Lupus is a severe autoimmune disease, resulting in severe symptoms include things like fever, hair loss, loss of appetite and others. If you are having cold hands in addition to these symptoms, you may have lupus. Lupus is notoriously hard to diagnose and treat, and it’s best you that you go see a doctor to get this figured out.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Iron Deficiency Anemia is a fairly common condition, which affects younger women and children more often than other population. It is directly caused by a diet with insufficient iron. In countries with severe malnutrition, as much as 100% of the population is anemic.
Detection of Iron Deficiency Anemia easy, thanks to a quick blood test, which can be done by your local nurse or health practitioner. The test detects the levels of hemoglobin in the blood. But, one of the symptoms of Iron Deficiency is cold hands. If you have cold hands and bundling up isn’t working – particularly if you are in a high risk group (e.g. pregnant women) – get checked for Iron Deficiency.
Luckily, the treatment is easy – and delicious! Simply incorporate more iron-rich foods in to your diet, such a parsley, red meat, and mussels. If planning a high-iron diet is too cumbersome, doctors can prescribe iron supplements, although those have unpleasant side-effects like constipation and dark stool. Either way, increasing your iron levels will have good effects past warming your hands, including increased energy and better mood.
Other Vascular Disorders
These are a group of disorders which have to do with inefficient or ineffective blood flow in the arteries. These can be caused by other things in our above list — such as diabetes and lupus — or may have other causes. For example, the vasoconstriction triggered by nicotine through smoking can cause vascular disorders. Or some types of injuries may lead to vascular disorders. If you are disease free and stay hard hasn’t helped, it may be that an element of your lifestyle or medical pass is causing some issues with your vascular system. For example, you may have a small benign tumor which is pressing against a blood vessel. The only way to find out for sure is by going to see your physician.
Whether your cold hands have an important underlying condition, or simply calls for a new wool turtleneck, cold hands are treatable. You don’t have to spend your days with your hands tucked underneath your armpits anymore. Try the tips in this article and go see a doctor. Warm, comfortable hands are at your fingertips.