Don't Get Cold (or Hot) Feet!

For diabetics, "getting cold feet" might not imply a sudden loss of confidence or onset of fear. Instead, it could mean the feet are not receiving adequate blood flow, due to Peripheral Arterial Disease.

Poor circulation of warm blood to the lower extremities can leave the feet feeling cool to the touch and might predispose diabetics to foot complications. Peripheral diabetic neuropathy, a form of nerve damage, can also lead to cold feet. While your feet might feel warm to a family member or your podiatrist, the nerve damage might cause warm tingling or painful sensations in the feet.

Podiatrists counsel their patients on the importance of keeping feet warm by wearing socks. However, hot feet can be just as dangerous as cold feet. In a 2006 study, researchers showed that an at-risk group of diabetics with foot sores showed significantly higher average foot temperature than diabetics without signs of diabetic neuropathy. Whereas a healthy person might show an average foot temperature of around 27 °C, a person living with diabetes who has peripheral diabetic neuropathy might have elevated average foot temperatures above 30 °C. "Hot spots" that form on the base of the foot can result in ulcers that can become infected and potentially lead to amputation if not treated properly.

Whether you have hot or cold feet, monitoring your foot health is imperative to successful diabetes management. If you experience any changes in your feet — temperature, odor, or texture — make sure you reach out to your health practitioner or podiatrist immediately.