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Bad Circulation Symptoms

Bad Circulation Symptoms

Viewing the detrimental effects associated with poor blood circulation, one cannot afford to ignore the different symptoms associated with the same, no matter how trivial they may seem. Cold hands and feet, varicose veins, numbness in the extremities, etc., are the different symptoms we need to look out for.
Priya Johnson
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Did You Know?
Bad circulation is infamous for being a 'silent killer', and is known to affect more than 10 million people across the globe.
Bad circulation predominantly targets the middle-aged and elderly folks, especially those with medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc. This condition of bad circulation is known to cause serious damage to the legs, heart, brain, etc. So what exactly is bad circulation? Why is it referred to as a silent killer and what are the different symptoms of bad circulation?

We all know that blood flows throughout our bodies via a network of arteries and veins. We also know that the heart works as a pumping organ, responsible for pumping blood into our arteries. However, we barely give much thought to the way blood is circulated in the body, until we hit upon a health problem. Bad circulation is nothing but restriction of blood flow to certain areas of the body. Blood is not allowed to flow in the manner it is supposed to in the body, and the different organs fail to receive adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in various health problems.
Symptoms of Bad Circulation
Symptoms of poor blood circulation do not arise overnight, but develop over a long period of time, which is why it is nicknamed the silent killer. Often bad circulation symptoms go unnoticed or are ignored, until the severity increases.
Cold Hands and Feet
Problems in blood circulation can cause cold hands and feet. This is because blood flowing between the arteries and veins regulate body temperature. During low blood flow rate, temperature maintenance is inadequate, resulting in cold extremities. Sometimes, people may also experience heat in the extremities, which is again caused by poor circulation of blood.
Swelling of the Feet
Poor blood circulation in the kidneys, interferes with proper kidney function results in swollen extremities. Moreover, thickening of the renal arteries by fat deposits can also result in poor blood circulation in the kidneys, which can cause swelling of the feet. Poor circulation causes blood to collect in the legs, thereby causing swelling of the feet. Standing or sitting for long hours at a stretch can cause swelling, while raising one's feet at heart level can cause the swelling to subside.
The constant sensation of being tired is called fatigue. Blood pumped to the different parts of the body carries oxygen and nutrients. Due to bad circulation, less oxygen and nutrients reach the muscles, which causes muscle fatigue. Leg pain and muscle cramps are also experienced. Thus, people with poor blood circulation experience lethargy and lack of stamina to carry out daily tasks. Breathlessness is also experienced after simple physical tasks are performed.
Cyanosis is described as the condition in which a bluish discoloration of the skin takes place, due to a lack of adequate amounts of oxygen in the blood stream. Peripheral cyanosis refers to extremities being affected by the bluish coloration, causing the fingers and toes to have bluish tints. The blood reaching the extremities lacks enough oxygen, which is why the skin appears bluish in color. Cyanosis can also indicate congenital heart disease in babies.
Slow-healing Infections
Inefficient flow of blood through the body can prevent wounds from healing. When a part of the body is wounded, the immune system of the body increases the amount of blood flow to the injury site, so as to help speed up the recovery process. However, due to bad circulation, insufficient blood reaches the injured site, thereby slowing down the healing process. Blisters may also develop on the feet due to poor circulation, which also takes a long time to heal.
The body requires unrestricted flow of blood for normal functioning. When the body faces poor blood circulation, all body systems slow down, including the digestive system. A sluggish digestive system is unable to digest food efficiently, causing the bowel movements to slow down. This results in constipation and other gastrointestinal discomfort.
Lack of Appetite
Poor circulation of blood in the liver can result in a loss of appetite. Since a person doesn't feel the urge to eat, over a period of time the person begins to lose weight.
High Blood Pressure
When the walls of the arteries are lined with fat deposits, the net space for blood flow is reduced, which causes the arterial walls to exert more pressure to pump the same amount of blood. This inturn raises the blood pressure. A rise in blood pressure can also be attributed to low blood circulation in the kidneys. Palpitation, chest pain, high cholesterol, and irregular heartbeats are also other symptoms caused by poor circulation.
Numbness in the Extremities
Numbness is usually felt after standing or sitting for a long time. Poor circulation can cause the muscles of the extremities to fall asleep. Numbness and a tingling sensation may also indicators of fat deposits blocking the flow of blood in the arteries. The thickened walls prevent blood from flowing to the extremities, which is what causes the numbness. This is dangerous because it can be an early symptom of heart disease.
Varicose Veins
Poor circulation is also seen to cause unsightly varicose and spider veins. Pain, itching and irritability are some of the other symptoms associated with varicose veins. Although varicose veins can occur in any part of the body, they are usually seen to occur in the legs. In this condition the valves present in the veins fail to prevent the backflow of blood back into the veins. This results in collection of blood in the veins of the leg, thereby causing swelling and severe pain. Wearing compression stockings will help increase blood circulation and alleviate the varicose condition.
Headaches, Dizziness and Memory Loss
Bad circulation in the brain causes headaches and dizziness. Lack of adequate oxygen supply may also result in lack of concentration and even memory loss. Besides memory loss, insufficient oxygen and nutrients supply to the brain also affects cognitive ability.
Brittle Nails, Hair Loss, and Dry Skin
Blood is responsible for the transportation of oxygen and other nutrients to the other parts of the body. When less blood reaches the skin, hair, and nails, a low amount of nutrients reach them as well. Because of this the nails, hair, and skin are unable to grow in a healthy manner. The skin becomes dry and pale, and may also develop itchy rashes. The nails become brittle and soft, where dandruff is seen to attack the scalp. Lack of adequate nutrition is also seen to cause hair loss.
Bad Circulation Symptoms during Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings about various changes in the body and one of the changes is in the blood circulation process. Pregnant women experience bad circulation problems, because the growing fetus applies pressure on their blood vessels.
Swelling of Feet and Ankles
Water retention or swelling in the feet is a major symptom of bad circulation during pregnancy, wherein blood does not flow back to the heart efficiently. Wearing maternity stockings will help control the swelling in the feet and ankles, by increasing the blood flow from the legs to the heart. While swelling of the hands and feet are symptoms of bad circulation and is not detrimental, swelling of the face and eyes is an indicator of preeclampsia, which can cause complications in pregnancy.
Most women may experience dizziness during the second trimester, especially when they get up quickly. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone softens the blood vessels to provide better blood flow to the growing fetus. This reduces the overall blood pressure, thereby causing less blood to flow to the brain. This in turn causes dizziness. Pregnant women should get up slowly, to avoid spells of dizziness. Later, in the third trimester, the weight of the growing fetus applies pressure on the blood vessels in the back and torso, which again causes a dizzy feeling while lying down.
Muscle Spasms
During pregnancy, many women are found to get up during the night yelping in pain, due to muscle spasms. Leg cramps or muscle spasms in the legs are caused by bad circulation. Exercising regularly, wearing maternity stockings, keeping the legs elevated at regular intervals, etc. will help reduce the incidence of muscle spasms.
What Causes Bad Circulation
The most prevalent cause for bad circulation in the body is atherosclerosis, which is nothing but a condition conduced by blocked arteries. A high cholesterol diet for a long period of time, results in plaque deposition on the walls of the arteries. Initially, there is no problem, however, as time progresses, the buildup of plaque increases, causing the walls of the arteries to thicken. The thickened arteries slow down the flow of blood, thereby causing the heart to exert more pressure to pump the same quantity of blood. As the plaque buildup keeps increasing, the heart ends up working way too hard, making it more difficult for the arteries to constrict. This results in a heart attack.

For some people, bad circulation is also caused by their body's response to cold temperatures. During the cold weather, their body reduces the flow of blood to the extremities, in the effort to keep blood in the main arteries of the body. Diabetes is also one of the common causes of poor blood circulation in the body. Children with congenital heart disease are also seen to be affected with bad circulation problems. Moreover, let's not forget to leave out the three kings of health issues: smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle!
How to Treat Bad Circulation
The physician will have you undergo a few essential tests, such as X-rays, MRI, etc. to diagnose the problem. If the condition is not severe, a lifestyle change and diet alteration can help prevent the plaque-buildup condition from aggravating. Diabetics will have to keep their sugar levels under control, while hypertensive people will need to take medication to control blood pressure. An angioplasty may also be carried out to widen the arteries when the block is really bad. A bypass surgery may also be conducted, wherein a blood vessel from one part is used to replace the blocked blood vessel.

Scores of people tend to ignore early symptoms of bad circulation, however, this ignorance can result in irrevocable loss in the future. Besides heart attacks and strokes, one can also end up suffering from dementia. Pay heed to the signs and do something about them. Taking action at the right moment will save your life. Moreover, those of us who haven't encountered any of these bad circulation symptoms, it's better to control our cholesterol intake and exercise regularly. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.