Beating the chill with Raynauds..
As soon as it gets cold, many with Raynaud’s desperately reach for some added warmth and security to beat the chill. Clothing is being layered on and heat packs are out and at the ready! But what actually is the Raynaud’s phenomenon?
Raynaud’s is a condition in which the blood supply to the extremities is temporarily interrupted, causing the extremities to change colour and can be painful, numb or tingle. It’s usually triggered by cold temperatures, anxiety or stress. A sufferer of Raynaud’s will find that when exposed to the cold the blood vessels will go into a temporary spasm, blocking the flow of blood causing the fingers to turn white and feel numb. The area may then turn blue and finally bright red (and sometimes burn) whilst the blood flow is being restored. These colour changes are most common to occur in the hands, but also effect the feet, nose or ears. These symptoms can last anything from a few minutes to several hours.
Raynaud’s is not a serious threat to your health, however it can be very annoying to live with due to the difficulties faced in using your fingers when cold à inability to hold or write using a pen after being exposed to the cold is a common difficulty!
What can be done to beat the chilling effect of Raynaud’s phenomenon?
Raynaud’s doesn’t always require pharmaceutical intervention, in many patients with mild Raynaud’s, wearing warm clothing and adequately protecting themselves from the cold is sufficient. Portable heating aids are invaluable for those with Raynaud’s or just generally who feel the cold; these are available as disposable, rechargeable and microwaveable heat packs and silver socks and gloves. Depending on the severity of your condition, your GP will be able to advise on treatments to alleviate the condition and propose any drug therapy if you’re suffering intense pain or functional impairment. Smoking can affect your circulation, so stopping can improve symptoms too.
More handy tips:
- Stop smoking! It has been proven that smoking can reduce the temperature by one degree over a twenty minute period
- Use warm air hand dryers in public places to warm our hands
- If you’re exposed to snow, wear plastic disposable gloves over your usual gloves to prevent them getting wet and making the cold worse
- Avoid touching cold surfaces such as railings
- Whilst relaxing at home, place a hot water bottle behind your back or under your feet for extra warmth
- Keep doors closed where possible
- Use shoulder bags for shopping where possible à Carrier bags with handles restrict blood getting to your fingers!
- Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth when outside – this stops cold air being sucked in through the mouth and sent straight to your lungs
- Always have a headscarf ready to wear for when you’re in air conditioned buildings or an aircraft to reduce the amount of cold air circulating your neck.
By being prepared and following these top tips, you’ll be in a better position to keep warm this winter, minimising those chilling problems which may cause you pain and discomfort!