DIET AND FITNESS:

Blue Legs --Top 10 Causes and
Cures
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April 12, 2010, last updated May 6, 2013

By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist and Susan
Callahan, Associate Editor


[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial
Boards.
]


My legs are blue! It sounds like a silly thing to say but unless
you’re a Smurf or a creature from the movie "Avatar" then
having blue legs could be an indication of something very
serious. When are blue legs a sign of a serious medical
condition? Are there any natural remedies for blue legs or
blue skin? What causes blue legs? When are blue legs a sign
of a dangerous medical condition?


The medical term for blue legs is "cyanosis". Cyanosis is
usually caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. Cells within
the blood carry around oxygen but these cells can become
restricted or the body might be prevented from taking in
enough oxygen.

Sometimes blue color of the legs is accompanied by swelling,
in which case you should also consider
medical reasons for
leg swelling including deep vein thrombosis.

Most of the causes of blue legs are quite serious and require
medical attention. But some causes of blue legs are not
serious and can be improved using home remedies.  Below
we have the top 10 reasons why your legs might be blue and
the cures which are often to treat the underlying cause.


1.
You're Too Cold. This is the least serious and most curable
reason that your legs are blue. The U.S Library of Medicine
supports the fact the number one reason for cyanosis is
because you’re cold. Depending on the color of your skin the
less or more noticeable the blue will be.



If your legs turn blue when you are cold, another possible
cause is Raynaud's disease.
Raynaud's disease is a medical
condition often associated with smokers when the
extremities turn first white and then blue when exposed to
low temperatures (CDC).

[Update:

In fact, the majority of people with Raynaud's syndrome
either have lived in cold climates all their lives or used to live
in cold climates, according to a 1997 study led by Dr. H.R.
Maricq from the Medical University of South Carolina. ]



Cures: The reason is due to circulation. When you are cold
the blood flows to your vital organs to keep them warm
forgetting about your extremities. If you notice yourself
turning blue from cold try to slowly warm yourself up. Put a
light blanket over your legs or a second pair of socks.




























2.
Poisoning.   According to the Centers for Disease Control,
over 32, 000 deaths are caused by unintentional poisoning
ever year. And one of the most common signs of poisoning
are blue legs.  The University of Maryland Medical Center
reports that many poisoning cases are due to drug
overdoses but some poisons are found in contaminated food,
water or using chemicals in a confined space.

In particular, cyanide poisoning will cause cyanosis. Cyanide
affects the body’s interaction with oxygen causing the
blueness.

Cure: Always use cleaning products and other chemicals in a
well-ventilated area. If you notice a change in color made
sure you get some air. You may require pure oxygen from a
professional if you are displaying any other symptoms.


If you think you have been exposed to contaminated food --
especially if you think you have been exposed to cyanide --
you need to go to the hospital immediately.  They will treat
you with the antidote and usually oxygen therapy also.


3.
Congenital Heart Diseases.  Some children are born
entirely blue. In fact the common name for this condition is
"blue baby syndrome".  Blue babies or blue legs can be
caused by a condition known as cyanotic heart disease.
Other heart conditions are linked to cyanosis in adults.
According to the Texas heart Institute, some congenital
heart defects indicate that the right side of the heart flows
directly into the left side without traveling to the lungs to get
more oxygen. As a result, the skin turns blue.


A related condition which can also cause blue legs  is
arteriosclerosis ---
hardening of the arteries or clogged
arteries. As a study from Munich in 2008 reported,  
hardening of the arteries leads to less oxygen travelling in
the blood, resulting in blue legs.


Cures: As mentioned by the Centers for Disease Control,
congenital heart defects are present at birth and require
professional medical attention.  

Arteriosclerosis can be treated with diet and exercise but the
particular type needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. (Read
more about
hardening of the arteries.)


4.
Asthma.  Asthma can cause blue legs.  Asthma restricts
the flow of oxygen to the lungs and lack of oxygen is the
root cause of the bluish tint in the skin in many cases. The
exact cause is actually the wheezing. Wheezing during an
attack creates an excessive expulsion of air. According to the
U.S. Library of Medicine, the resulting decrease levels of
oxygen in your blood turns your legs blue. (U.S Library of
Medicine)


Cure: If you have been diagnosed with asthma and you’ve
had a recent attack then follow your doctor’s advice and
take your prescribed medication and the color should return
to normal.

If you have been wheezing and are unsure why, try
breathing with the aid of a paper bag and contact your
doctor immediately as it may be a symptom of one of the
respiratory conditions we discuss  below. (Read more about
natural remedies for asthma.)


5.
Emphysema. According the National Heart Blood and
Lung Institute, emphysema is the 4th leading cause of death
in the United States and is strongly linked to smoking. As
with asthma, the lack of oxygen is what causes your skin to
turn blue.

If wheezing and coughing mucus or blood is occurring at the
same time as the bluish tint then it could be emphysema.

Cures: Again treating the underlying condition is the way to
treat the cyanosis. Usually sufferers are treated with oxygen
therapy and drugs.

6.
Deep Vein Thrombosis and Blood Clots. The Centers for
Disease Control defines deep vein thrombosis as when a
blood clot forms in the veins and it can eventually travel to
the heart and cause a fatal pulmonary embolism. (Read more
about
pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.)


7.
Buerger's Disease. Buerger's disease can also cause blue
legs. Buerger's disease is caused by the clotting of the veins
in the hands and feet. It is normally associated with
smoking. Buerger's disease is mostly a condition suffered by
men.



Cure: If your blue leg or blue legs occur in combination with
pain in that leg it is important to dial 911 right away as a
blood clot can kill you with a matter of hours. Again, if your
leg is blue
and you feel pain, this is a medical emergency.


8.
Circulatory Shock. This does not refer to the psychological
condition of shock but the circulatory kind which can be
caused by loss of blood or severe burns. It is when the
blood does not pump around the body the way it is
supposed to due to an underlying factor.

Cure: The way to treat this is by immediate medical attention
as circulatory shock can be fatal within a short amount of
time. However some tips to help before you receive attention
are to elevate your legs, and stay warm.


9.
Diabetes. Diabetes is a common cause of blue legs,
especially as the incidence of diabetes skyrockets around the
world.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who
have type 2 diabetes in particular are more likely to suffer
from blue skin or blue legs because  their cardiovascular
function is often weaker. Diabetes can cause the narrowing
of blood vessels when there is a high blood sugar level.
Therefore,
poor circulation could be causing your blue legs.


Cure: If you are experiencing blue legs and you have been
diagnosed with diabetes, then you need to see your doctor
as it could be a sign your condition is worsening. Also check
that your blood sugar hasn’t spiked for some reason. (Read
more about
bad circulation and natural remedies that help.)


10.
Stress.  Stress can cause blue legs. A University of
Michigan School of Medicine study in 1995 linked stress and
blue legs. This is due to the effect of stress on the circulatory
system. The chemicals released when you are stressed such
as adrenalin put your body in "fight or flight" mode,
changing the way your heart pumps blood around the body
and sometimes the make up of the blood to prepare for
physical injury.


Cure: Deal with your stress and you’ll be back to normal.
Here are some
tips for reducing stress in your daily life and a
list of foods that can help you reduce stress.

Bonus:

11.
Dehydration. The National Institute of Health lists
dehydration as a cause of blue skin and blue legs. It is only
at the very late stages however, that the legs cramp and give
a blue appearance to the skin. Drinking 8 glasses of water a
day at a minium can remedy most cases of dehydration but
not this type of severe dehydration. Avoiding excessive
intakes of caffeine also helps to slow dehydration during the
day. This type of severe dehydration is also likely to cause
other symptoms (Click here to read more on
The Importance
of Drinking Water).


Cures: The American Academy of Family Physicians
recommends that anyone who is this severely dehydrated
needs to be admitted to a hospital to receive intra venous
fluids. Thereafter, you have to follow a daily regimen of
drinking adequate amounts of water.


In summary, if you are not cold and have blue legs it is best
to air on the side of caution and consult a doctor. Many of
the causes of blue legs can be very dangerous.


Related:
 
Top 10 Remedies for Bad Circulation
Swollen Ankles-Causes and Cures / Swollen Hands --Do you
Need to Be Worried?
/ How to Lose Weight After
Menopause/ Varicose Veins-All the Remedies That Work  /
Health Dangers of Milk / Lose Weight by Lowering
Thermostat / Lose Belly Fat After the Baby/ Foods That
Shrink Your Waist/ Drinking Cold Water Burns Calories / Six
Pack Abs-A Guided Tour /Top 10 Foods That Fight Anemia /
How Much Is Too Much
Salt? /Sugar-The Disease
Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your Health? / Ideal
Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for Arthritis
/
Healing Foods Links /  Foods That Shrink Your Waist /
Foods That Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-The Other Cholesterol/
Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

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