In this article:
- How does the blood circulatory system work?
- Symptoms of poor circulation
- Causes of poor blood circulation
- How to improve blood circulation
The blood circulatory system is responsible for delivering nutrients and oxygen to every cell in the body. Our body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, all working to provide nourishment and oxygen to every muscle and tissue in our body. In fact, we have two blood circulatory systems, the systemic circulation which provides blood to organs, tissues, and cells, and the pulmonary circulation in which the fresh oxygen we breathe in enters the blood. All the while, carbon dioxide is being released from the heart. These blood vessels, like cogs and wheels or pumps and pipes, are transporting blood from your heart all throughout the entire body; arteries carry blood away from the heart, while the veins carry it back.
When all these blood vessels are healthy, clear, and flexible, the muscles (including the heart) are being nourished and the brain is firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, maintaining optimal circulation isn't always easy. When any area of our body is deprived of oxygen, the results can be much more severe than tingling in your fingertips. Poor circulation can lead to fluctuating blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood clots, and much more. All of which increase your risk factors for more serious conditions, some of which are fatal. No matter how severe or seemingly mild, poor circulation is nothing to sweep under the rug.
The symptoms of poor circulation are hard to identify right away. They can be subtle, or passable as a side effect of inadequate sleep, or even something that can be solved with an over the counter painkiller. However, they might be a sign of something much more severe.
One of the most common causes of poor circulation is blockages or narrowed blood vessels. This can happen when calcium and plaque build up within the veins and cause the blood vessels to become stiff. A number of conditions can lead to poor circulation and in return, they can be worsened by it.
Depending on the severity and underlying cause of your blood circulation, it may require simple lifestyle changes or a more robust treatment plan, per your doctor's discretion. Diabetic patients will likely be prescribed insulin. People with Raynaud's disease may be given alpha-blockers and calcium channel blockers. Endoscopic surgery may be recommended to treat varicose veins.
In any case, you should seek specific medical advice from a trusted doctor to gauge the severity and find the cause of your circulation issues. Other simple, nonprescription methods for increasing blood circulation include:
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