What It Is And How It's Treated
Raynaud's disease is an uncommon disorder that affects your arteries. It strikes intermittently and when you
have an episode your arteries constrict so blood flow is restricted to the surface of your skin and
During this time your skin can turn blue from lack of
oxygen and it might feel cold or numb. One of these attacks can last a few minutes or over an hour. When the
episode is over, your arteries relax and blood rushes back into your skin and may cause throbbing or
Raynaud's disease most commonly affects your toes and
fingers but it could also strike your lips, ears, or nose. There are two kinds of Raynaud's disease known as
primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud's disease accounts for 80 percent of the cases and afflicts the arteries in
your toes or fingers in response to cold or stress. The symptoms are relatively mild and can usually be treated by
making lifestyle changes. Primary Raynaud's is most common in women, people ages 15 to 25, and in those with a
family history of the disease.
Secondary Raynaud's is more common after the age of 30 and is a more serious medical
condition that occurs in conjunction with other disorders. Some conditions that are linked to secondary Raynaud's
disease are hypothyroidism or other endocrine gland diseases, blood disorders, lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid
arthritis or other connective tissue disorders, cell growth problems, carpal tunnel syndrome or other nervous
system conditions, vascular disorders, and arterial diseases like atherosclerosis. In addition, certain medications
are also associated with the development of Raynaud's disease such as beta blockers for high blood pressure,
estrogen medicines such as birth control pills, ergotamines for migraine headaches, certain chemotherapy
medications, and cold medicines that cause your blood vessels to constrict like pseudoephedrine.
Once you have Raynaud's, you will probably suffer with periodic episodes throughout
your life as there is currently no known cure for the condition. However, you can make changes to your lifestyle
that will help you manage your symptoms.
For example, you should try and avoid exposure to cold temperatures by staying
indoors as much as possible in the winter and soaking your feet and hands in warm water. Keep your feet and hands
moving so the blood keeps circulating. Massage may also be beneficial. If you have to go outdoors when the weather
is very cold, try placing chemical warmers in your gloves or shoes to keep your extremities warm. It may also help
if you limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine and give up smoking.
More serious cases of Raynaud's disease may require medical intervention with
medications or surgery. If blood flow is reduced to a finger or toe for a prolonged time, the tissue may start to
die. You could even lose the toe or finger. Medicines that relax blood vessels may be helpful. Medicines that block
epinephrine are also used since epinephrine triggers vessel constriction. In addition, if another medical condition
is responsible for triggering your Raynaud's disease episodes, identifying the cause and getting proper treatment
for it may also help reduce the frequency of your attacks.
Return From Raynaud's Disease To Blood Pressure Monitors