Clues your feet give about your health, 17-18
17. Red flag: "Phee-uuuuw!"
What it means: Though smelly feet (hyperhidrosis) tend to cause more alarm than most foot symptoms, odor -- even downright stinkiness -- is seldom a sign something's physically amiss. (Whew!) Feet contain more sweat glands than any other body part -- half a million between the two of them! And some people are more prone to sweat than others. Add in the casings of shoes and socks, and the normal bacteria that thrive in the body have a feast on the resulting moisture, creating the smell that makes wives and mothers weep. (Both sexes can have smelly feet, but men tend to sweat more.)
More clues: In this case, the one olfactory clue is plenty.
What to do: Wash with antibacterial soap and dry feet well. Rub cornstarch or antiperspirant onto soles. Toss used socks in the wash; always put on a fresh pair instead of reusing. Stick to natural materials (cotton socks, leather shoes) -- they wick away moisture better than man-made materials. Open up laced shoes after you remove them so they get a chance to fully air out; don't wear them again until they're fully dry.
18. Red flag: Old shoes
What it means: Danger! You're a walking health bomb if your everyday shoes are more than a couple of years old or if walking or running shoes have more than 350 to 500 miles on them. Old shoes lack the support feet need -- and footgear wears out faster than most people think, foot specialists say.
More clues: Blisters (too tight), bunions (too narrow), heel pain (not enough support) -- if you're having any kind of foot trouble, there's at least a 50-50 chance your shoddy or ill-fitting footwear is to blame.
Older people are especially vulnerable because they fall into the habit of wearing familiar old shoes that may lack support, flexibility, or good traction.
What to do: Go shoe shopping.