You might not often think of your feet as having any significance towards your overall health. Still, you’ll be surprised by how something as seemingly insignificant as yellow toenails can indicate something more serious.
Sudden Loss of Hair on Your Feet
Hairy toes are more common in men than in women, but they would still have fine, baby hairs on their toes. If you find that your feet are suddenly balding, you could be suffering from peripheral arterial disease or PAD. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons suggests that the absence of hair could indicate that blood flow is being restricted in your arteries. If you are experiencing other symptoms commonly associated with heart disease, it’s time to consult your primary physician.
Swollen or Bloated Ankles and Feet
Swelling in the ankles and feet is generally considered “safe,” as long as it’s not painful. As doctors explain, this is merely gravity at work. However, it also indicates that either your kidneys, liver, or heart aren’t working properly and could be leaking fluids as you go through your day. If this is the case, then simply putting your feet up and resting at the end of the day should be enough to bring down the swelling.
You should see your physician immediately if you experience any pain when your ankles and feet are swollen. This could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis, meaning you have a clot in your arteries that are blocking the flow of blood. If this problem is not immediately addressed, the clot could get dislodged and travel to your lung, causing a deadly pulmonary embolism.
Painful Open Sores
You might have to seek the services of a podiatrist to remove corns and calluses on your feet, but you’d have to talk to a cardiologist if you have open sores that are taking too long to heal (or not healing at all). Open sores on one’s feet are particularly painful as it also deters you from moving around. What do these open sores indicate? Diabetes. If you know someone who suffers from this ailment, you know that though they can live relatively normal lives, they also have to be careful about getting cuts and bruises. Having these on their feet is especially dangerous because if it’s not treated immediately, it could cause gangrene and, the worst-case scenario, they’d have to amputate the leg.
Foot Numbness and Pain
Another indication that you could be suffering from something serious like diabetes is the constant numbness in your feet. Some diabetic patients even define it as a burning sensation and something as innocuous as getting lightly tapped on the feet can feel excruciating. This can also be another indication of having PAD. Consult with your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
On the other hand, having chronic foot pain could be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Feel the pain early in the morning, just as you’re getting out of bed? It could also indicate plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of tissues connecting your heel to your toe. It’s “at rest” when you’re asleep, that’s why it can be painful when you take your first steps in the morning. While both could indicate something more serious, you could do some foot-strengthening exercises that would not only alleviate the pain but also make your feet and ankles stronger.