Never take your feet for granted. Never, ever. Why? Your feet could signal the first (or ongoing) signs that something may not quite right about your health.
That’s right. We tend to forget about our feet unless they start a-howlin’ from cramped shoes or those sky-high stilettos we wear to show off our lovely gams. Without any pain to get our attention, we often tend to ignore our poor tootsies. This isn’t very wise. In fact, we need to make a daily or at least, weekly habit of examining any change in our feet. Besides, it only takes a few minutes to do so.
Heed any visible changes on the skin, nails, toe, and overall foot structure. Pay close attention as well to any changes in the way your feet feel. Odd changes can mean that your body is not all that well.
The feet are farthest from the heart and are therefore low priority parts in cases of a threatened cardiovascular and neurological system. When your health is compromised, the feet oftentimes manifest the threat first. Therefore, our feet could serve as a health barometer, one which we should always pay attention to if we plan to stay on our toes for a very long time.
Feet Speak on Your Health
If our feet could speak, we’d probably be a healthier lot with tons of forewarning. But our feet don’t have the words, so we’ll need to learn their physical language.
You don’t need a mouth on a smelly foot to speak volumes about hygiene; but, what you probably don’t know is that feet can tell you what’s wrong with your blood sugar levels, nutrition and hydration status, circulatory efficiency, and even your posture, among other things going on in your body.
Take a good look at your feet now. Look at your….
Are they yellow? If so, don’t start fretting yet. It’s probably just your feet admonishing you about your lazy grooming habit of leaving on that nail polish for a month. You should start being concerned, however, if your nails aren’t just yellow, but brittle and flaky to boot because you just may have a fungal party in full swing under these.
This fungal condition called Onychomycosis can persist painlessly for years but it does get ugly. In time, your toenails can thicken, and later on darken and smell too. Nip this thing in the bud by seeking medical care.
Yellow toenails can also signal arthritis, a lung condition, or lymphedema. On the other hand, they can also just be exhibiting trauma from ill-fitting athletic shoes.
Unnatural spoon-like, concave indentations on toenails may speak of anaemia or iron deficiency. Nail beds and skin surrounding the nails may appear pale as well.
Be happy for toe hair. Good blood flow sustains healthy hair growth; so, should your toes suddenly turn a nice, sandal-friendly bald, they may be telling you that you have a circulatory problem. You may have arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which limits heart power and therefore blood circulation to the limbs.
Clubbed toes may be an inherited feature or a symptom of more serious threats. Toes are clubbed when the nails appear like an upside-down spoon heads, curved or rounded at the top. Toe tips are also very rounded. Clubbed toes may be red flagging for lung cancer, lung fibrosis, genetic heart defects, thyroid issues, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, liver disease, and celiac disease.
Narrow shoes can cause pain to start at the ball of the foot and then radiate towards your small toes, commonly around the third and fourth toes. Such pain could be a symptom of Morton’s neuroma. A nerve could be inflamed and irritated, causing the tissue around it to thicken and scar. The pain can come and go and can range from dull to excruciating. This condition affects more women than it does men. Girls, careful of those pinching shoes.
Upward turning toes also tell serious problems. You could have lung disease, heart disease, or Crohn’s disease (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract).
Pain often accompanied by swelling and stiffness in and around the toes’ joints may suggest rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative condition which needs to be addressed in its early stages to avoid permanent toe deformities and to maintain functionality.
Swollen ankles may signify kidney problems. The kidneys are our body’s filters. When these filters start failing, fluid can build up and accumulate first at the ankles and feet.
Are your feet chronically cold? If your feet never seem to get warm, they may be warning you of hypothyroidism, a condition involving a sluggish thyroid which does not produce enough hormones to balance metabolism. Hypothyroidism causes weight gain and constant fatigue.
Cold feet can also signal poor circulation.
Examine your feet for:
- Sores – Sores that don’t heal bring out the warning bells for diabetes or skin cancer. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves so you may not even feel wounds. In the worst case scenario, an unhealed, infected sore may require amputation of the infected part.
Persistent sores can also signal skin cancer. Examine your whole foot and do not forget to check in between your toes.
- Dark Spot – The sudden appearance of a dark spot anywhere on your foot (even under a nail) may suggest melanoma or skin cancer.
Foot and leg cramps may mean you are either dehydrated or potassium-challenged or both. Just drink enough water and up your potassium intake with food such as bananas, dark leafy greens, and squash. Charley horses may also signal your lack of magnesium or calcium.
Indeed, our feet can speak volumes about our health; so it makes good sense to make foot checks a habit. Besides, feet are how we get from here to there which makes a little more daily care all the more important.