Help for Cold Hands and Feet

Expert advice on how to keep warm this winter.
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My fingers and toes are always cold in the winter. Could this be a sign of something serious?
Elinor Mody, MD, director of the Women's Orthopedic and Joint Disease Center at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital: Cold air makes blood vessels contract, decreasing blood flow to your extremities. The vast majority of women who complain about cold fingers and toes don't have an underlying condition. But their chill can signal low thyroid hormone or Raynaud's disease, a blood-vessel disorder. Fingers and toes can also feel cold if you have anemia, diabetes, arthritis, or take certain blood-pressure medications. Caffeine may play a role, too.

How can I warm myself up?
Keep the core of your body warm. Dress in layers and wear a hat and mittens instead of gloves so your fingers can share body heat. I don't recommend warm packs -- those chemical pouches you can slip in gloves or boots -- especially with Raynaud's sufferers (you may not be sensitive enough to heat and could get burned).

Why is my husband always warm when I'm freezing?
On average, men have a larger body mass, which accounts for their greater inner warmth.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, February 2009.


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