What is Raynaud’s Disease?

Raynaud’s Disease is a condition where blood flow to the fingers or toes is temporarily decreased.  5% of the population has this condition, and women are affected more than men.  The condition is frequently inherited.  Symptoms generally consist of the fingers and/or toes turning blue and becoming cold and numb.  Once normal blood flow returns, the digits become bright red and often tingle or throb.  Cold weather, repetitive vibration and stress are the most common precipitants, although certain conditions including lupus, hypothyroidism, frostbite and peripheral vascular disease can cause Raynaud’s.

People with Raynaud’ Disease should reduce cold weather exposure as much as possible, always wearing gloves or mittens and warm socks when outside during the winter.  If an attack occurs, the length can be reduced by using chemical warmers or soaking the hands and/or feet in warm water.  Smoking, alcohol and caffeine can precipitate an attack, and certain medications including Sudafed, tryptans (migraine relievers such as Imitrex), estrogen-containing birth control pills and beta-blockers (used for high blood pressure and heart attack prevention) should be avoided.  Patients with Raynaud’s should not use power tools such as chainsaws because they vibrate.  Regular cardio exercise increases blood flow and seems to decrease the severity and frequency of attacks…..Richard R Samuel, MD     Family Practice and Urgent Care   Hayden, ID  USA

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