Neuropathy Affected Climate FactsPeripheral neuropathy is a condition created by damaged nerves in the feet, hands, arms and legs. These nerves are no longer sending the right messages through the nervous system and to the brain, which results in irregular and sometimes uncomfortable sensations. Patients with peripheral neuropathy have experienced tingling, burning and numbing sensations in various parts of their bodies due to this lack of communication between the brain and nerve cells. Part of what causes this communication breakdown is the lack of oxygen that reaches nerve endings. This precious oxygen, which can help keep nerve cells working and functioning properly, is transported through the body by blood. As you can imagine, blood moves much slower in colder weather and in colder climates, which leads to less oxygen reaching nerve cells. Reduced blood flow can definitely intensify peripheral neuropathy symptoms and may even cause further damage to already affected nerves. Cold weather and the slowing of blood flow make it difficult for those with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy to measure the effects of the cold. They may already be feeling numbness or tingling; warning signs they would usually feel when a part of the body is cold. There are some things you can do to help manage the level of discomfort that peripheral neuropathy causes in cold weather. Here are a few tips:
- Be sure to wear warm, dry clothing
- Protect your hands and feet by wearing gloves, mittens, or thick socks.
- Limiting the amount of caffeine you take in. This can lead to a temporary narrowing of blood vessels.
- Exercise to improve circulation.
- Massage the areas where you most often experience peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
- Avoid staying out in the cold for too long.
- Do not smoke. Cigarette smoke has been shown to slow blood circulation.
- Limit the amount of alcohol your drink. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to vitamin deficiency, which can cause damage to peripheral nerves.