Many of us overlook our foot especially when it comes to our health. Unknown to you, your feet can alert you to serious issues like diabetes, thyroid disease, and heart disease before you can even get to the doctor’s office. Here are signs of diseases your feet can reveal.
Dry feet is a sign of thyroid problem especially if moisturizer doesn’t help. When the thyroid gland goes on the fritz, it doesn’t properly produce thyroid hormones, which control metabolic rate, blood pressure, tissue growth, and skeletal and nervous system development. Thyroid problems cause severe dryness of the skin.
If the fuzz on your toes suddenly disappears, it could signal poor blood circulation caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Signs of PAD can include decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin. Symptoms are subtle, but doctors can check for a healthy pulse in the foot or spot PAD on an X-ray.
Ulcers that don’t heal
Uncontrolled glucose levels can damage nerves and cause poor circulation, so blood doesn’t reach the feet. When blood doesn’t get to a wound caused by, say, irritating shoes, the skin doesn’t heal properly. Many people with diabetes are diagnosed first because of foot problems. Other signs of diabetes may include tingling or numbness of the feet. Ask your doctor about getting your blood sugar levels tested.
Enlarged, painful big toe
Gorged on wine and steak? The painful aftermath could be gout, a type of arthritis that usually affects the joint of the big toe. Foods high in purine, a chemical compound found in red meats, fish, and certain alcohol, can trigger an attack by raising levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is normally excreted through urine but is overproduced or under-excreted in some people. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for short-term relief and suggest a low-purine diet for long-term prevention.
Tiny, red lines under the toenail
Red streaks underneath the toenails or fingernails could be broken blood vessels known as splinter hemorrhages. These occur when small blood clots damage the tiny capillaries under the nails. They can signal endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining. People who have an existing heart condition, have received a pacemaker, or who have chronically suppressed immune systems are at higher risk of developing endocarditis. The infection can result in heart failure if left untreated.
Another symptom that appears in both toes and fingers is clubbing. It is often associated with lung cancer, chronic lung infection, heart disease, or intestinal disease. Lung cancer and heart disease decrease vascular resistance, which means blood flow to the small arteries in the toenails and fingertips will increase. Tissue swells and results in the clubbed appearance. Though patients are typically aware they have a disease that is causing the clubbing, it’s best to get checked if you see any abnormalities.
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