Do you have extreme pain in your finger tips, toes, tip of nose or ears when exposed to cold temperatures? Do your fingertips turn blue or white when holding a very cold drink? Does the air conditioner coming on trigger pain in your extremities? You might be one of 28 million Americans who suffer from Raynaud’s disease – a condition in which some areas of the body feel numb and cold in certain circumstances.
What are the symptoms of Raynaud’s?
Raynaud’s causes an interruption of blood flow to extremities when a spasm occurs in the blood vessels of those areas. Spasms are caused by exposure to cold or emotional stress. Typically, the affected area turns white, then blue, then bright red over the course of the attack. There may be associated tingling, swelling, or painful throbbing. The attacks can last from just a few minutes to several hours. In very severe cases, the area may develop ulcerations and infections, which, if left untreated, can lead to gangrene.
Who gets it?
Women are about nine times more likely than men to have Raynaud’s disease, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome. Not surprisingly, it appears to be more common in people who live in colder climates.
Can it be treated?
Treatment of Raynaud’s depends on its severity and whether you have other health conditions. For most people, Raynaud’s disease isn’t disabling, but can affect quality of life. Dressing appropriately for the cold in layers and wearing warm gloves or heavy socks usually are effective in dealing with mild symptoms of Raynaud’s. Medications are available to treat more severe forms of the condition, including calcium channel blockers or alpha blockers to widen blood vessels.
If you think you might be suffering from Raynaud’s disease, talk to your primary care physician.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice. Patient results will vary based on risk factors, age, disease and medical history and are not guaranteed in any way.