49. Warming Up Cold Hands and Feet

Some people wear mittens and heavy socks all year round, even in warm weather, indoors and out. Their hands and feet are always cold.

Supersensitivity to cold may be due to Raynaud’s disease. Or the problem may occur in the wake of frostbite, during work that uses vibrating equipment (like a jackhammer), or a side effect of taking certain medications, or because of an underlying disease affecting blood flow in the tiny blood vessels of the skin. Stress may also increase sensitivity to cold in the hands or feet.

Symptoms to look for are:

  1. Fingers or toes that turn pale white or blue, then red, in response to cold temperatures.

  2. Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.

  3. Pain when fingers or toes turn white.

If wearing gloves and wool socks and staying indoors where it’s warm is a nuisance or doesn’t help, try these other warm-up tips.

  1. Don’t smoke (it impairs circulation). If you smoke, quit.

  2. Avoid caffeine (it constricts blood vessels).

  3. Don’t handle cold objects with bare hands. (Use ice tongs to pick up ice cubes, for instance.)

  4. Set your indoor thermostat at 65ºF or higher.

  5. Wear mittens and wool socks to keep hands and feet warm.

  6. With fingers outstretched, swing your arms in large circles, like a baseball pitcher warming up for a game. This may increase blood  flow to the fingers. (Skip this tip if you have bursitis or back problems.)

  7. Wiggle your toes; it may help keep them warm as a result of increased blood flow. Don’t wear footwear that is tight fitting.

  8. Practice a relaxation technique, such as biofeedback (described in Tip 160 in chapter 6, Success Over Stress).

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems