Top 8 Symptoms of Poor Circulation
Top 8 Symptoms of Poor Circulation
The heart is responsible for pumping our blood throughout our body. Blood carries nutrients, oxygen, and compounds to the muscles, organs, brain, and all other areas of the body so each part can function normally and efficiently.
But what happens if blood isn’t circulated well enough? What if certain areas of the body aren’t having blood circulated there? In short, it’s bad.
Poor circulation of blood (and the nutrients and oxygen blood carries) can lead to a number of negative effects on the body. This leads to a few common symptoms that range from annoying to painful to potentially dangerous if you don’t handle the issue.
In this article, we’re going to go over some of the most common causes and symptoms of poor circulation you should be aware of, along with some treatment options if you suspect you have poor circulation.
What Causes Poor Circulation?
From your own common sense along with our introduction, you know that poor circulation means that blood isn’t being circulated in your body correctly or well enough for different areas of your body to function properly.
Blood has two main functions in the body. First it carries oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells in your body. Secondly, it removes the waste products that all of the cells in your body produce.
With poor circulation, you are getting a double whammy! First of all, reduced circulation means that your cells aren’t getting all the nutrients and oxygen they need to function properly. And two, the blood can’t take away all of the waste that your cells create. Over time, this leads to a build-up of waste products in your body which can cause further problems down the line like organ failure.
But bad circulation doesn’t just happen without a cause. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of poor circulation before getting into symptoms you may see because of these issues.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (also known as PAD) is a disease the causes the arteries and veins in your body to become abnormally narrow. It’s usually the result of plaque build-up, a symptom of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and/or heart disease.
The narrowing of the vessels in the body makes it harder for blood to flow normally. Not only can this lead to poor circulation, but it also significantly increases your chance of stroke and heart attack.
When blood becomes clotted, this can either narrow or entirely block your blood vessels. When a vessel is partially (or completely) blocked, you can experience poor circulation. It’s also what often leads to strokes and heart attacks.
Raynaud’s disease is similar to PAD in that it results in the narrowing of the blood vessels. However, this disease usually affects the vessels in the hands and feet, which leads to chronic poor circulation in those areas.
It can also affect the lips, nipples, ears, and nose.
We’ve already mentioned how type 2 diabetes is linked to PAD, which can lead to poor circulation. PAD is usually the underlying cause of the poor circulation linked to diabetes.
Obesity is linked to diabetes, high cholesterol, and excess vessel blockages, all of which can contribute to poor circulation. Obesity is also linked to high blood pressure because of all the extra fat tissue and cells that need blood flow. This can overwork the heart, weaken blood vessel walls, and overall lead to poor circulation.
Poor Circulation Symptoms
Now that you know some of the most common causes of poor circulation, let’s look at the most common symptoms you may experience if you have poor circulation.
1. Cold Fingers, Toes, Hands, and Feet
Poor circulation mainly affects the extremities. This is because the extremities like the hands and feet are the farthest away from the heart, which is where blood is pumped to and from. Poor circulation means that it’s harder for your body to pump blood, which means the things farther away from the heart are likely not going to get much blood flow.
Because of this lack of blood flow reaching the hands and feet, it’s common for those with poor circulation to feel constantly cold in the fingers, toes, hands, and feet.
2. Aching/Cramping in the Limbs
Poor blood flow to the extremities and limbs can lead to cramping and aching in those muscles. This is especially true in the legs, which you might notice more when walking around.
You also may notice that your feet and legs hurt more when you’re laying down. That’s because when you’re walking, gravity can help force some blood flow to your legs, even if you do have bad circulation.
But when you lay down, gravity isn’t on your side. This leads to even more restricted blood flow to your legs and feet, which leads to pain.
3. Dry Skin
The skin is the largest organ we have, so it makes sense it would be significantly impacted by a condition like poor circulation. Blood brings nutrients, oxygen, and moisture throughout the body. This helps keep our skin healthy and moisturized.
With poor circulation, though, your skin isn’t going to be getting the nutrients and moisture it needs. This can cause it to dry out quickly and often even after you apply layers and layers of lotion or drink plenty of water.
4. Hair Loss
Hair loss with poor circulation is similar to why you commonly experience dry skin. Blood circulation to our scalp is what brings nutrients and compounds to the hair and hair follicles that keep it healthy.
Without proper blood flow to the scalp, your hair follicles can become unhealthy and die. This leads to hair loss.
5. Numbness (Usually in the Extremities)
For the same reason that your extremities will feel abnormally cold, they might also feel numb. It feels like your feet, hands, and legs are asleep.
This can also lead to feeling tingling and “pins and needles” in those areas as well.
6. Headaches and Dizziness
If you’re not getting enough blood flow to your head, that means that your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen since blood is what transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
When this happens, you can experience headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, and even fainting.
You may be familiar with the feeling of a “head rush” when you stand up too quickly. That happens because blood rushes away from your brain/head, which leads to the lightheaded dizziness we’re familiar with. That same concept applies to poor blood circulation to the brain.
7. Fatigue and Lack of Energy
As we’ve said many times before, blood is what brings our muscles, brain, and organs nutrients and oxygen that helps them work properly. When your brain, muscles, and organs aren’t getting the nutrients, oxygen, and energy they need to work, it’s going to take a lot of effort to function normally.
Your body tells you to slow down because it’s not getting what it needs to work at a normal level. It tells you to slow down by making you feel tired, slow, fatigued and decreases your energy levels.
After all, how are you supposed to function properly if energy and nutrients aren’t making it to the places they’re needed?
8. Pain in the Feet, Chest, and Head
Poor circulation can lead to pain in these areas. This usually means that there’s a larger underlying issue that can be a serious concern (like blood clots, heart disease, etc).
But poor blood flow to the heart and brain can also lead to pain, shortness of breath, fainting, and stomach pain/nausea.
The good news is that poor circulation can be treated in a number of different ways.
Blood thinners are a type of medication that makes it easier for blood to flow even if your vessels are blocked, narrow, or damaged. Blood thinners can also manage blood clots, which are also a common cause of poor circulation.
Endoscopic surgeries on your veins and arteries can clear blockages and widen narrowed vessels to improve blood flow.
Diet and Weight Loss
As we mentioned earlier, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are all common causes of poor circulation. Losing extra weight and managing these conditions with a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet can help to reduce the symptoms of poor circulation and can potentially reverse your condition.
Special Exercise Regimen
Exercise can help you lose weight, which goes into the point we just made. There are also specialty exercise routines and exercise moves that are designed specifically to improve blood flow and circulation.
Compression socks, leggings, armbands, and shirts are all excellent treatments for poor circulation. These types of garments put pressure on the blood vessels. This pressure helps improve blood flow and circulation, even in problem areas like the feet, legs, and hands.
Poor Circulation Symptoms and Treatments: Final Thoughts
While poor circulation can have a number of underlying causes, it results in the same common symptoms that we’ve detailed above.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. While you might think that numb feet aren’t a big deal, if you don’t treat it, it could lead to serious complications like a heart attack or a stroke.
Do you think that your poor circulation is caused by your excess weight? Read this article to learn more about how being overweight or obese affects your health.
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