What your feet say about your health pt2

Published: 2011-05-04 12:07:54
Author: Bernadette Gibson

  THIS week continues with more red flags as you take a sneak peek at your feet.

"You can detect everything from diabetes to nutritional deficiencies just by examining the feet," says Jane Andersen, Doctor of Podiatry Medicine and president of the American Association of Women Podiatrists and a spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association.

The feet provide an abundance of insightful data. A pair of feet contain 52 bones, which is more than a quarter of all the 206 bones of the body Each foot has 33 joints; 100 tendons; muscles and ligaments; and countless nerves and blood vessels that link all the way to the heart, spine and brain. This is an indication of how important nature regarded the foot when she designed it.

Unresolved foot problems can have unexpected consequences. Untreated pain often leads a person to move less and gain weight or to shift balance in unnatural ways thereby increasing the chance of falling and breaking a bone.

So when the feet send a message they mean business. This week we will highlight the ninth and tenth of eighteen red flags as I continue a nine segment presentation.

Red Flag 9: Thick, yellow, downright ugly toenails

What it means: A fungal infection is running rampant below the surface of the nail. This condition is referred to as Onychomycosis and can persist painlessly for years. By the time its visibly unattractive, the infection is advanced and can spread to all toenails and even fingernails.

More clues: The nails may also smell bad and turn dark. People who are most vulnerable are those with diabetes, circulatory trouble or immune-deficiency disorders (like rheumatoid arthritis). If an older person has trouble walking, sometimes the problem can be traced to the simple fact that the infected nails grew thicker and are harder to cut and thus has simply gone undetected to the point of pain.

What to do: See a foot specialist or your regular physician for care and treatment. In serious cases the over-the-counter antifungals are usually not as effective as a combination of topical and oral medications and the professional removal of diseased bits. Newer-generation oral antifungal medications tend to have fewer side effects that older ones.

Red Flag 10: "Phee-uuuuw!"

What it means: Though smelly feet (hyperhidrosis) tend to cause more alarm than most foot symptoms, odour or downright stinkiness is seldom a sign something physically amiss.

Feet contain more sweat glands than any other body part, having half a million between the two of them. Some people are more prone to sweat then others.

Also, while being enclosed in shoes and socks, and the normal bacteria that thrive in the body have a feast on the resulting moisture thus creating the smell that makes wives and mothers weep. Both sexes can have smelly feet but men tend to sweat more.

What to do: Wash with antibacterial soap and dry feet well. Toss used socks in the wash and always put on a fresh pair instead of reusing. Visit a specialty footwear store to purchase shoes and socks that will wick away moisture.

There is no need to wear two or three pairs of socks at once in an effort to absorb moisture. Invest in a pair of anatomically-designed terry cushioned moisture-wicking socks. There are also various types of insole made from moisture wicking material that are used to combat this problem. Always wear shoes with breathable upper material, for example, leather.

* Bernadette D Gibson, a Board Certified & Licensed Pedorthist, is the proprietor of Foot Solutions, a health and wellness franchise that focuses on foot care and proper shoe fit, located in the Trinity Plaza, West Bay Street, Nassau. Bahamas www.footsolutions.com/nassau

"The views expressed are those of the author and does not necessarily represent those of Foot Solutions Incorporated or any of its subsidiary and/or affiliated companies. Please direct any questions or comments to nassau@footsolutions.com or 322-FOOT (3668).