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How to recognise illness from your feet.

If only your feet could talk they would say whether or not you are healthy. Some illnesses first appear on our feet. Recognise the signs.   2015-10-29

Our feet are much more than the two limbs that keep us upright. They can also reflect the state of our health.

Certain illnesses and conditions first appear on your feet so if you identify them early you should go to your doctor immediately.  

Ulcers that don't heal - Sign of Diabetes

Uncontrolled glucose levels can cause nerve damage and poor circulation. Blood is unable to reach the lowest extremities so any small wound on the foot doesn’t heal properly. Also because of the nerve damage your feet may feel numb or tingling.

Painful Swollen Toe – Gout

The toe which is the lowest joint in the body becomes inflamed and very painful due to the deposits of uric acid. 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.

Bald toes - Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Poor blood circulation in the legs can cause decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin. Often the early signs are missed and people go to their doctors when they are experiencing pain whilst walking suggesting that nerve damage may have occurred.

Clubbing of the Toe –- Breathing problems

Tissue swells around the end of the toes resulting in a “clubbed” appearance. The swelling is painless and usually bilateral. There is no change to the underlying bone. The nail base eventually becomes convex and extends halfway up the nail. Clubbing is thought to result from changes to the volume of interstitial fluid and increased blood flow to the area.

Dry, flaky feet and Brittle toenails - Thyroid problems

The thyroid gland controls among other things, our metabolic rate, blood pressure and tissue growth. Severe dryness of the skin especially cracking on the feet could be a first sign of a thyroid problem. If you have very dry skin that doesn’t respond to moisturiser see your doctor and have your thyroid levels checked.

Red lines under the toenail

The streaks are caused by small clots damaging the tiny capillaries under the nails and may be seen in patients with a high risk of developing endocarditis, for example, people with existing heart conditions, who have received a pacemaker, or who have chronically suppressed immune systems (such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, HIV patients, and diabetes patients).

If left untreated heart failure may result so if you notice splinter haemorrhages on your toenails and haven’t experienced any recent trauma to the nail, see your doctor to check your heart and blood circulation.

Your feet

Each step we take involves a remarkably intricate network of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

In ancient China it was believed that different points of the body can be treated through reflex points in the feet and hands. This technique is known as reflexology.

Reflexology focuses on repairing the body parts which are not functioning properly by applying painless pressure on your foot and hands. It has become a very popular therapy for relieving different kinds of pains and stress and through massage have proved to be effective to stimulate the nervous system and heal it. It is now being used alongside Western medicine to help deal with illness.

Keep your feet happy and they will last a lifetime

  • Examine your feet regularly
  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit
  • Wash your feet daily with soap and lukewarm water and dry them well
  • Trim your toenails straight across and not too short
  • Keep your weight down as excess weight puts extra stress on your feet.