what is Raynaud’s syndrome?
Raynaud’s disease is when the blood vessels in your fingers and toes temporarily react to cold temperatures or stress. For most people, this is not a serious health problem. But for some, reduced blood flow can cause complications.
types of Raynaud’s syndromes
You may hear this disease called by many names. There are two types, primary and secondary syndrome.
Primary Raynaud’s disease (or Raynaud’s disease) occurs without any other disease as the root cause. Symptoms are often mild.
Secondary Raynaud’s disease(Raynaud’s syndrome, Raynaud’s phenomenon) occurs as a result of another disease. Often it is a condition that attacks the connective tissues of your body, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It is less common, but more likely to cause serious health problems such as skin sores and gangrene. This happens when cells and tissues in your limbs die from lack of blood.
What are the symptoms?
When it’s cold, your body tries to conserve heat. One way it does this is by slowing blood flow to the most remote points – your arms and legs. To this end, the network of tiny arteries that carry blood to these points narrows, keeping the blood closer to the body’s core to help conserve heat.
If you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, these arteries constrict more than normal and faster than normal. This can make your fingers and toes go numb and change colour to white or blue. This usually takes about 15 minutes. When the arteries relax and your body warms up again, your fingers feel numb and turn red before returning to normal.
One in 10 people may have some form of Raynaud’s, with most having the underlying form. About one person in 100 or less will have secondary Raynaud’s.
Women are up to nine times more likely to get it than men.
People of all ages can get Raynaud’s, but it usually begins to appear between the ages of 15 and 25.
People with an average level of Raynaud’s get it after 35 years.
People with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus are more likely to get secondary Raynaud’s disease.
People who use certain medications to treat cancer, migraines, or high blood pressure may be more likely to get Raynaud’s.
If you suspect you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, you will be asked a few questions about your symptoms and your fingers and toes will be examined. The angiologist may also use a special magnifying glass called a dermoscope to look at the blood vessels around your nails to see if they are enlarged or deformed.
If you suspect that your condition is caused by another health problem, you may be asked to give a blood sample. This checks for signs of an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have Raynaud’s phenomenon, your treatment will be aimed at preventing attacks or limiting those that do occur. This usually means keeping your hands and feet warm and dry, controlling stress and getting regular exercise.
You will need to avoid certain medications, including over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine. They can worsen your symptoms by causing your blood vessels to narrow.
If you have secondary Raynaud’s, you may be given medication to control your blood pressure, relax your blood vessels and improve blood flow to the affected tissues.
is it dangerous?
Serious cases can stop blood flow to your skin and lead to tissue damage. A completely blocked blood artery can cause sores on the skin (ulcers) or dead tissue (gangrene). This is rare, but if it does occur, it may require removal of a finger.