Did you know your feet will give telltale signs when something is wrong with your health? Often being the most ignored part of our body, it's actually one of the most important to doctors. Most underlying health conditions can be detected early if you know what warning signs to look for.
Since the times of ancient China, doctors have believed different areas of the foot represent different organs. Now in this modern day and age, we know they were partially right. So today we'll look at the five most important warning signs your feet will give when your general health is potentially at risk.
Symptoms: Cut on your foot that doesn't heal. Tingling sensation in your feet. Dragging your feet while walking.
If you notice an open wound or cut on your foot which does not heal after a prolonged period, your feet may be trying to warn you about diabetes. Unregulated glucose levels damage the nerves and start to affect blood circulation, preventing your feet from receiving sufficient blood and proper healing.
People with diabetes are often diagnosed with a foot problem first. Diabetes causes blood sugar levels to rise, which prevents nerves from functioning properly. This can cause you to feel pins and needles in your feet or even drag your feet when you walk.
You should consult your doctor if you start to feel on and off tingling sensations or find a non-healing wound on your foot which persists longer than a week. Unattended foot wounds, in combination with diabetics, can turn infectious, requiring amputation. Don't ignore these crucial warning signs!
Symptoms: Clubbing Toes. Swollen feet.
Because your feet are at the farthest point from your heart and lungs, they are usually the first to indicate something is wrong with these vital organs. If your feet are persistently swelling or your toes start bulging in size, otherwise known as clubbing, this is an indicator of low blood-oxygen levels.
Swelling of the feet and toes can also mean a variety of things. However, if you've ruled out trauma and infection, lung cancer may be the culprit. This cancer reduces vascular resistance, increasing blood flow to the tiny arteries in your feet and toes, which causes the swelling.
So if you notice your toes start clubbing, this is a serious warning and is not common whatsoever. This is the biggest indicator your feet will give when there is something wrong with your lungs if you've ruled out all other possibilities. If your feet are swelling too, it means your blood circulation is not working properly, and you should consult your doctor.
Symptoms: Big red line under the toenail. Swollen ankles. Hair loss on toes.
If you notice a dark red line running on your toe, it means your blood vessels have broken. If you have not recently suffered trauma like a stubbed toe, these "splinter haemorrhages" are the result of heart infection. This bruising is a sign of endocarditis which is a serious condition that can be fatal.
Your feet can reveal so much about your heart's current condition. A few years ago, I went to visit an old Chinese doctor located here in Singapore, in Hougang. After he inspected my feet and rotated my swollen ankles, he told me I had hypertension. I was amazed he diagnosed my high blood pressure just by looking at my feet!
While working all day on your feet can cause swollen ankles, if you have a more sedentary lifestyle, this is not normal and can indicate high blood pressure. Combined with bruising and splinter haemorrhages you may have a heart infection which requires immediate medical attention.
Kidney and Liver Problems
Symptoms: Toenails turning white. Deep grooved lines in toenails.
Your kidneys are responsible for removing nitrogenous waste. When your kidneys are not functioning properly, these toxins will build up in the body. This affects the shape and composition of your nails. If you are eating correctly, and are not malnourished or taking medication, then there may be something wrong with your kidneys.
If you notice white spots on your nails or your nails start to turn white all over, and you've ruled out infection, this is a sign your kidneys are not properly filtering out toxins. If you've deemed your toe whitening is actually due to infection, it can be an indicator that your liver is not functioning properly because it's the liver's job to fight off infection.
Any change in your toenails structure, such as sudden grooved lines and ridges, can be the result of acute kidney disease which affects the growth of nails. Do not be alarmed though; it can mean a variety of things like poor diet and lack of vitamins. So consult with your doctor before jumping to assumptions.
Symptoms: Pain in big toe. Deformation of the big toe over time. Joint swelling in big toe.
If you eat a lot of high purine foods such as red meats and drink an abundance of alcohol, you may contract Gout. Your big toe can start to deform over time and will ache in pain from the slightest movement. This arthritis can be so painful that it prevents patients from even being able to walk.
The cause of Gout is due to too much uric acid in the body, when not properly secreted, the remaining acid will rest in the lowest and coldest part of the body, the feet. The acid will then start to harden creating crystals in the joints, making movement incredibly painful.
Luckily, this is the easiest disease to cure out of this list. The solution is to eat less protein, more vegetables and take preventive medication. Drinking plenty of water will help flush uric acid as well. The common diet here in Singapore is very protein-heavy, so I would recommend to you start including more vegetables in your everyday diet.
What Can Your Feet Reveal About Your Health?
Your feet are like an open book, revealing many details about the current state of your general health. It's why ancient china has practised Reflexology (foot pressure point massage), for over 3000 years. The effectiveness of pressure point massages and acupuncture on feet has even been scientifically proven as very useful.
However, the last thing you should ever do is try to self-diagnose, causing yourself unnecessary and unhealthy stress. If you find you have any of the listed symptoms above, do not jump to stressful conclusions. Most likely, it is nothing to worry about! If you notice any of the symptoms listed, consult with your doctor. If you do have one of the diseases listed above, the good news is you've caught the disease at the earliest stage, when it's easiest to cure!
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