Poor Circulation – A Guide
The symptoms of poor circulation become more familiar as we get older – cold hands and feet, difficulty moving our toes and fingers, even swollen feet and ankles. So what are the other symptoms of poor circulation, and is there anything you can do to improve ?
Our simple guide will tell you everything you need to know about what causes poor circulation, together with advice on the steps you can take to improve poor circulation – including the benefits of wearing compression hosiery.
For Poor Circulation, Daylong recommends:
What is Poor Circulation?
Poor circulation is usually used to describe reduced blood flow to your hands and feet. In your hands, reduced circulation leads to cold hands, pale skin and difficulty moving your fingers because not enough oxygenated blood reaches this part of the body. In your feet, the problem is different because we stand and walk about. Here gravity and poor circulation result in swollen legs due to water retention and pooling of blood in the blood vessels.
The symptoms of poor circulation include:
- Cold hands which feel sluggish and look pale, even blue
- Swollen feet, particularly around the ankles due to fluid retention in the tissues
- Darker looking skin which may crack and ulcerate
- Chilblains on your toes, particularly when the weather is cold
- Generally feeling the cold more than you used to
How to prevent Poor Circulation
To prevent poor circulation you can make lifestyle changes as we describe in our top tips section below. These include losing weight, stopping smoking and keeping as active as possible.
Another way to help prevent poor circulation is wearing compression hosiery. When the cause of poor circulation is due to damage within the veins, for example in varicose veins, compression garments help to:
- Compress the tissues of your leg, pushing fluid back up to the heart
- Ease the pressure on the veins
- Relieve some of the pain and tiredness in the legs
It is a good idea to get medical advice on the type of compression stockings you need. It is important that you are diagnosed accurately, and that you are fitted with the right type of compression hosiery.
What causes Poor Circulation?
You can suffer reduced circulation for many different reasons, the most common causes of poor circulation include:
- Advancing age: Poor circulation occurs naturally as we get older. Our bodies simply become less efficient. Atherosclerosis in the arteries can reduce the amount of blood flow in our legs and feet, and our veins become less able to carry blood back to our heart.
- Being overweight: Extra body weight puts pressure on the blood vessels in our legs. This causes the damage that leads to reduced levels of circulation.
- Injury: If you have had an accident that affected your legs or pelvis, the tissues may remain scarred. Blood vessels themselves can also be damaged directly, again leading to poor circulation.
- Diabetes: High blood glucose levels can damage both the blood vessels and the nerves in your legs and feet. The complications of diabetes can lead to poor circulation and a lack of sensation, which increases the risk of venous foot and leg ulcers.
- Smoking: Smoking causes disease in the arteries of the legs, which can become partially or completely blocked.
Top tips on how to prevent Poor Circulation
If you suffer with poor circulation, it is recommended that you see your doctor for tests to find out what the problem is. Identified early, treatment for poor circulation – including wearing compression hosiery – can produce maximum benefit. Your doctor can also diagnose serious underlying conditions, such as arterial disease or deep vein thrombosis.
The following lifestyle changes also work well as treatment for poor circulation:
- Keep active: When you walk or swim and contract the muscles in your arms and legs, this helps to increase blood flow through your muscles. Maintaining an active lifestyle will over time improve poor circulation, or at least prevent it deteriorating further.
- Stop smoking: This is a major cause of poor circulation, and stopping smoking is good for your health in other ways too.
- Raise your legs: If your feet and legs swell, rest with your feet raised up in the evening. You can prop your legs up with cushions to encourage fluid out of the legs. You can also raise the base of your bed to achieve the same effect at night.
- Wear compression hosiery: Correctly fitted compression hosiery as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist is an easy and beneficial treatment for poor circulation.