Poor Circulation: Warning Signs, Symptoms, and Causes

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Poor CirculationDo you suffer from swollen legs, numbness and tingling in your arms, or frequently have cold hands and feet? Although these are common signs of aging, it may be your body signaling a problem with your blood flow. Poor circulation can be the result of health conditions that may have serious consequences. We will uncover the signs and symptoms to watch for with poor circulation.

We need to have our blood circulation working well to ensure our body receives adequate nutrients and oxygen for proper functioning. Poor circulation is a decrease in the blood supply.

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Circulation

1. Numbness of Extremities

The numbing and tingling sensation that most commonly occurs in your hands, feet, arms, and legs, signals a reduction or blockage of blood flow to these parts. It usually happens when maintaining the same position with the hand or foot for a prolonged period. If numbness occurs often, it may be a sign of poor circulation.

2. Fatigue

If you find yourself constantly feeling exhausted, even after a good night’s sleep, you may have poor circulation. Improper delivery of the essential amount of oxygen and nutrients to the organs and muscles will cause your body to try and reserve any stored energy, which will lead to the overwhelming feeling of fatigue.

3. Loss of Appetite

Part of proper body function depends on the conditioning of the gastrointestinal tract. We require a good blood supply for the digestion and distribution of nutrients in our blood. A decrease in circulation leads to a lack of appetite and a slowdown of our metabolic rate.

4. Digestive Issues

Since our digestive tract requires good blood circulation, a problem with blood supply can lead to the improper processing of ingested food. As a result, it could lead to a host of digestive issues such as diarrhea, stomach pains, and nausea. It also causes a reduction of nutrients acquired.

5. Weak Immune System

Poor circulation can also weaken your immune system since your body cannot fight ailments without the appropriate nutrients. The immune system needs amino acids and minerals from a proper functioning digestive system, which can be hindered with poor circulation. Any open wounds will also be affected as the healing process will take longer.

6. Chest Pressure

For our heart to maintain good working order, our blood circulation must be strong and steady. Poor circulation can cause a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest. The condition is often referred to angina and may be mistaken for a heart attack in some cases. The pressure sensation comes and goes.

7. Decreased Cognitive Ability

Our brain relies on circulation to be in tip-top shape. As the blood supply decreases, so does our capability to think sharply and precisely. Our memory can also be affected by poor circulation to the brain.

8. Cold Extremities

Our inner body temperature depends on a consistent blood supply. Our extremities, including the fingers and toes, receive heat through the blood circulating from our core. Poor circulation leads to an abnormal core temperature, resulting in cold hands and feet.

9. Skin Discoloration

A tell-tale sign of poor circulation is the lips turning blue or purple in color. Also, this can happen with the extremities, as the oxygenated blood supply becomes weak and skin becomes discolored as a result.

10. Dark Eye Circles

We all experience dark circles and puffiness under the eyes from time to time, usually due to lack of quality sleep. These symptoms can also signal poor circulation. An easy way to determine the cause of dark circles is to press on the skin. If it first turns white before immediately returning to a darker shade, poor circulation may be at hand.

11. Fragile Nails and Hair

Poor circulation symptoms can also affect our hair strands and nails. Since the circulation of blood carries nutrients to required parts of the body, the health of our hair and nails depends on good blood supply. Poor circulation can cause nails to chip and break easily, and hair to become brittle and fall out.

12. Swollen Extremities

The hands and feet can become swollen if the kidneys cannot maintain fluid levels in the blood vessels due to poor circulation. The fluid then escapes into the tissues of the extremities and causes swelling. Severe cases of swelling can lead to leg ulcers.

13. Leg Ulcers

Poor circulation that causes the tissue to swell can result in leg ulcers. Leg ulcers may appear as a rash of inflamed patches of skin near the knees or ankles, accompanied by tenderness and soreness.

14. Varicose Veins

Another condition resulting from the swelling is varicose veins. Poor circulation may cause the veins to become visible near the skin surface due to a buildup of pressure. Varicose veins appear as blue and purple lines, and may result in pain or itchiness in some cases.

15. Reduced Libido

A reduced blood flow can cause libido problems for both men and women. The reproductive organs of both sexes require a great deal of blood supply. Women may also have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility issues, while men tend to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

What Causes Poor Circulation?

Poor circulation causes are linked to many serious health conditions, with atherosclerosis and peripheral artery disease being the most common. A decrease in blood supply can also be the result of disorders and lifestyle habits including smoking, overeating, and abusing alcohol.

1. Peripheral Artery Disease

Mostly seen in adults over the age of 50, peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes the arteries and blood vessels to shrink, leading to poor circulation. PAD can result in numbness and tingling, as well as cause damage to the tissues and nerves. Without proper treatment, the lack of blood flow may lead to a stroke. Directly associated with PAD is atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries causing them to become hard. Atherosclerosis could lead to a heart attack as a result of reduced blood flow.

2. Blood Clots

Poor circulation is the result of a reduction or blockage of blood supply. Blood clots usually affect blood flow in the legs or arms. It is important to have treatment at the first sign of a blood clot to avoid it from traveling to your heart and lungs.

3. Diabetes

Diabetics have more to be concerned about than just blood sugar levels, as poor circulation is a major consequence of the disease. In addition to poor circulation in the feet and painful cramping in the legs, calves, and thighs, people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy hinders the ability to sense symptoms of poor circulation, as the nerve endings in the extremities become damaged, prohibiting sensations.

4. Obesity

Studies show that having extra weight can cause excess pressure on our heart and lungs, as well as compress the blood supply throughout the body. Poor circulation in the hands and legs are a result of being overweight, especially if the person holds a standing or sitting position for a prolonged period.

5. Raynaud’s Disease

With this condition, the arteries narrow causing blood circulation to become poor. Severe cold hands and feet are signs of Raynaud’s disease, which are exacerbated by extremely cold temperatures or stressful situations. The lips, ears, nose, and nipples may also be affected. Raynaud’s disease is more prevalent in women than in men.

Poor circulation is usually to blame for many mild ailments such as having cold hands in a warm room. Although cold hands and feet have a link to many conditions, the issue of poor circulation can lead to severe health conditions, such as a stroke or heart attack. Every part of our body requires a good supply of blood for proper functioning.

A partial or complete interruption of blood flow results in poor circulation. It is imperative to know the signs and take the proper precautions to avoid further complications of poor circulation.

Also read: Poor Circulation Treatment: 15 Home Remedies to Improve Blood Circulation

Article Sources (+)

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“Medical Definition of Poor circulation,” MedicineNet, May 13, 2016; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=97614, last accessed April 21, 2017.
“10 Warning Signs of Poor Blood Circulation,” Top 10 Home Remedies; http://www.top10homeremedies.com/news-facts/10-warning-signs-of-poor-blood-circulation.html, last accessed April 21, 2017.