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10 Things You Should Know About Raynaud’s Syndrome

By at March 23, 2011 | 12:14 am | Print

10 Things You Should Know About Raynaud’s Syndrome

10 Things You Should Know About Raynaud’s Syndrome
By Mary Putman

About  5% of the U.s population suffers from a disorder that affects the blood flow to the hands and feet called Raynaud’s Syndrome.  This is when the vessels to the skin narrow, limiting the blood flow to these areas.  It is caused by an overreaction to the cold in which the veins restrict to send more blood to the core of the body to keep the internal organs warm.  Here are 10 things to know about Raynaud’s Syndrome.

1.  There are two forms of Raynaud’s.  The first one is Primary Raynaud’s, also called Raynaud’s Disease, and is the most common and mildest form.  Secondary Raynaud’s is referred to as Raynaud’s Syndrome or Phenomenon, and can be a symptom from and underlying disease such as Scleroderma, Atherosclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.

2.  Raynaud’s Syndrome affects mostly women, and usually over the age of 35.  It can also affect those whose job entails using vibrating tools for long lengths of time such as drills, and also those who use repetitive motions like playing the piano.

3.  The fingers and toes are the most targeted areas for attacks, but can sometimes also affect the nose, ears, nipples or lips.

4.  Symptoms of an attack often include the fingers or toes get cold and numb while turning white because of the interruption of blood flow to the area and then they might turn blue.  When the blood flow returns to the area they turn red and can cause pain, throbbing, tingling or burning.  The attacks can last from a few minutes to several hours.

5.  There is no simple test that will diagnose Raynaud’s Syndrome, so a Dr. would probably have the patient describe the symptoms of the attacks while conducting a physical exam.  They may also test for other diseases to rule out.

6.  Things that can trigger an attack include cold, a sudden change in temperature, such as retrieving something from the freezer, stress, certain medicines, beta blockers and cold medicines with pseudoephedrine, caffeine and smoking.

7.  There is no cure for Primary Raynaud’s but in Secondary Raynaud’s, if there is an underlying disease, a Dr. can treat that which may relieve the symptoms.

8.  Some ways of preventing attacks include:

  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Avoiding tobacco smoke
  • Avoiding cold temperatures
  • Wear gloves and hats
  • Don’t wear cotton socks, but wear wool or synthetic ones
  • Use oven mitts when reaching into a refrigerator or freezer
  • Instill lifestyle changes

9.  When attacks occur some things to try for relief are running hands or feet under warm water, using hand and toe warmers, which are warming pouches often found in sport stores, and by swinging the arms around like a windmill to increase the blood flow.  There are also some medications a Dr. could prescribe for extreme cases.

10.  While the effects of Raynaud’s Syndrome do not usually have long term damage or disability, some severe cases can develop skin sores or gangrene from repeated attacks.

1.  Raynaud’s Phenomenon Topic Overview.  (July 7, 2008)  WebMD, Better information, better health. WebMD Medical References from Healthwise.  http://arthritis.webmd.com/tc/raynauds-phenomenon-topic-overview (March 20, 2011)

2.   Raynaud’s(February, 2011), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Diseases Conditions Index http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/raynaud/ray_what.html (March 20, 2011)

3.  Mayo Clinic Staff (November 13, 2009) Raynaud’s Disease http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/raynauds-disease/DS00433 ( March 20, 2011)

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