Raynaud’s disease, aka syndrome or phenomenon, is a condition that causes numbness and tingling most often in your fingers and/or toes, but it can affect the tip of your nose and ears as well. This tingling and numbness sensation is in response to cold temperatures or stress.
Raynaud’s disease goes beyond just cold feet and hands, but it’s not frostbite. What happens with this syndrome is that your arteries constrict too much in response to cold or stress, resulting in limited blood flow to the affected vessels.
The initial symptoms of Raynauds episode include:
- white fingers/toes
As your circulation improves, your previously constricted region may:
- get red
Raynaud’s numbing “attack” symptoms may have you tingling with skin color changes. Typically from white to blue to red, although not everyone goes blue.
Raynaud’s blood constriction phenomenon has two classifications:
- primary ~ not connected to an underlining condition
- secondary ~ associated with an underlining condition
Underlining conditions that may cause your secondary Raynaud’ssyndrome include:
- prior injuries
- repetitive trauma
- Buerger’s disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- thyroid gland disorders
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- pulmonary hypertension
- chemical exposure ~ vinyl chloride (plastics industry)
- certain medications ~ beta blockers, migraine medications, estrogen
Secondary Raynaud’s is less common, but it has a tendency to be a more serious.
Raynaud’s disease has the highest incidence in women who live in cold climates. Primary Raynaud’s attacks usually start occurring somewhere in your late teens to early twenties.
Exposure to cold, and for some emotional stress, can bring on an episode of Raynaud’s. Some measures you can take to get your circulation going during an attack:
- massage white fingers/toes
- wiggle tingling fingers/toes
- put your hands under armpits
- move to a warmer environment
- make wide circles with your arms
- run warm water over numb fingers/toes
Some healthy methods for mild attack prevention:
- take niacin
- don’t smoke
- control stress
- avoid caffeine
- avoid OTC pseudoephedrine
- use insulated drinking glasses
- move to a milder climate location
- run heater before driving in cold weather
- some birth control pills affect circulation
- wear gloves when taking stuff out of the freezer
- avoid wearing tight wristbands, rings or footwear
- take special care of your hands/feet ~ don’t walk barefoot
- always dress warmly in cold weather ~ hat, scarf, mittens, gloves
Healthy lifestyle changes and supplements in support of improved circulation may be all it takes to keep Raynaud at bay. However, there are medical measures available, and paying a visit to your doctor can reveal these options.
The health of your fingers and toes may require dwelling in a temperature above 60.