Poor Blood Circulation – Its Symptoms, Causes and Remedies
Poor blood circulation can cause a myriad of symptoms or problems. Sometimes these problems are mere annoyances. At other times they can be quite serious. To better understand how conditions of poor circulation can arise, it may be helpful to examine what is happening in the body when the blood circulation is normal.
How Blood Circulates in the Body
Blood circulation is so named because the path of the blood in the body follows a well-defined circuit. It is pumped out of the heart, travels throughout the body, and returns to the heart, where it is pumped out once again. There are actually two major paths or circuits involved. One path is that of pulmonary circulation. This path carries blood to and from the lungs. When problems are encountered in this path, they are often the result of a cardiopulmonary disease or disorder. The other path carries blood to the rest of the body. This is the path of systemic circulation. It supplies blood to all of the major systems of the body, except the lungs.
The major function that occurs within the pulmonary circulating system is that oxygen-poor blood is exchanged for oxygen rich blood. There is only one artery in the body, the pulmonary artery, that carries oxygen-poor or deoxygenated blood. It carries deoxygenated blood back to the lungs, where the carbon dioxide, produced by the cells in the body, is replaced with oxygen. All of the other arteries in the body carry only oxygen rich blood.
Oxygenated blood is returned to the heart from the lung by the pulmonary veins, where it is squeezed out of the heart to be distributed once more. Blood leaves the heart through the arteries that run throughout the body, and is returned to the blood through veins, which also run throughout the body. There are valves in the veins which keep the blood from flowing backwards during those moments when the heart is at rest.
When the blood can travel throughout the veins and arteries without hindrance, blood circulation is said to be normal. If there is anything that makes it difficult for blood to reach certain parts of the body, the condition is usually referred to as poor blood circulation.
Common Symptoms of Poor Circulation
Poor blood circulation to the extremities can cause numbness or tingling, and sometimes pain. Fingers or toes may take on a bluish color, because tissues are being deprived of oxygen. Poor circulation in the legs can cause muscles to become sore, or to "burn", as they might under normal conditions during a long run, or a strenuous climb. Poor circulation that affects major muscle groups are sometimes experienced as weakness.
At a microscopic level, when the blood supply to a part of the body is inadequate due to poor circulation tissues and cells do not get enough of the nutrients they require to function normally. These are nutrients that are delivered by the blood supply. Individual cells may die, and in more severe cases, tissues may as well. In most cases tissues, such as muscle groups, simply don't function was well as they are supposed to.
Additional Symptoms of Poor Circulation
Besides feeling numbness in the extremities there are a number of other symptoms associated with poor circulation. The extremities may feel cold some of the time, or all of the time. Poor blood circulation can cause dry skin, blotches in the skin, and even hair loss. The lower extremities may retain excessive water, and cramping in the legs may occur more frequently than normal. Poor circulation can cause shortness of breath, and if the blood supply to the brain is being affected, a person can feel lightheaded at times or experience periods of dizziness.
There are a number of causes of poor blood circulation that could be called major causes. One of them is smoking. Another is lack of exercise. What you eat can be a contributor, in other words, junk food. Put all of these things together and it can be safely said that one's lifestyle can play a major role.
Lifestyle Changes Are Often an Effective Means of Treatment
If one's lifestyle is to blame, it usually takes a long time for the problem, and its symptoms, to develop. The process can be often be reversed by making certain lifestyle changes, but that will take some time as well, although possibly not as much time. Unless the condition is serious enough to require medication, or even surgery, changes in diet and exercise can often be enough to return things back to normal, or at least to near normal. Some simple remedies include drinking more fresh water and adding some additional fiber to the diet. One does not need to stop drinking alcohol, but cutting back can help. So can various herbal remedies, as well as massage, following a regimen of stretching, and yoga. If your feet are constantly cold, try wearing heavier socks, or wool socks. That isn't just a matter of simply addressing the symptoms. The blood circulation in the feet may improve if the feet are being kept warm.