When you have a small problem on your feet, you might tend to neglect it. But doctors warn that while your feet may not be killing you, it could be alerting you to a serious problem. Here, we look at some signs manifested on the foot that could be symptoms of other illnesses
Persistent sores: A common symptom of diabetes is neuropathy, or damage to the nerves. This means that patients are unable to feel or notice injuries, for example, having a stone in the foot or a blister. If the injuries get worse and become infected, they can lead to ulcers and gangrene, and the need for amputation. Nerve damage can also cause the feet and toes to change shape. Other signs of diabetes that appear in the feet include dry, cracked, and peeling skin, calluses, and poor circulation.
Colored toenails: Yellow toenails are common among women who always wear nail polish, but they can also be a sign of something more serious. Conditions linked to yellowing toenails include tuberculosis (TB), jaundice due to liver problems, inflammation of the thyroid gland or the sinus and even a lung condition that could lead to breathing problems. A variety of nail colors and textures can reflect an even wider variety of systemic problems. If there is discoloration or deformity of the nails, and this is not linked to the use of cosmetics, it might be a good idea to seek medical advice.
Swollen feet: Swollen feet can indicate a wide range of problems, some of which can be life-threatening. They range from poor circulation and related heart failure, kidney or liver failure, to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot, lymphatic buildup and cellulitis, among others. If there is redness, warmth, and inflammation, there could be an infection. Bruising and swelling suggests a sprain or fracture. Painless swelling in the feet happens when fluid builds up in the body, and gravity means that it collects in the feet. Home treatment includes raising the feet when sitting down, exercising the legs, reducing salt intake, and avoiding tight clothes. Losing weight may help some people.
Enlarged big toe: Gout can cause the toe to be red, hot, swollen and extremely painful. Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis among men. It is a type of inflammatory arthritis that happens when too much uric acid, or monosodium urate, builds up in the tissues and fluids of the body. As uric acid crystals tend to collect in the coolest part of the body, gout normally manifests in the big toe, and this is where the symptoms tend to appear first. People who are overweight or obese, and those with poor circulation, are more prone. Alcohol, a meat-rich diet, and some medications can add to the risk. Gout also increases the risk of kidney stones.
Foot cramping and spasms: Muscle spasms can be uncomfortable, but they can also be signs of deficiencies in the body. The spasms can be caused by dehydration. Insufficient hydration can mean that the muscles are not getting enough oxygen and that there is a lack or imbalance of electrolytes or nutrients, especially sodium, calcium, potassium, or magnesium. This could be a side effect of diuretic medication, which aims to reduce excess fluid in the body. If the spasms happen while walking, it could indicate a circulatory problem. Spasms can also result from overexertion, or not stretching enough when exercising. Finally, the type of shoes might contribute, for example, changing from flat shoes to high heels.