Alice Beer details gloves designed for Raynaud's sufferers
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Up to 20 percent of adults worldwide can be affected by Raynaud’s disease. It’s thought as many as 10 million people in the UK have the condition. How exactly can Raynaud’s disease affect you though? What are the three signs that you could be suffering from it?
What is Raynaud’s disease?
Raynaud’s disease is a condition which causes some parts of your body – for example, your fingers and toes – to feel numb. This is as a response to cold temperatures or stress.
Although Raynaud’s disease usually affects your fingers or toes it can also impact other areas of your body – such as your ears or lips.
In Raynaud’s disease smaller arteries that supply blood to our skin become narrow, limiting blood flow to affected areas.
On average women are more likely to have Raynaud’s disease. It also appears more often in people who live in colder areas.
What are the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease?
Signs and symptoms of Raynaud’s disease include:
- Cold fingers or toes.
- Colour changes in your skin in response to the cold or stress.
- Numb, prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming or stress relief.
During an attack of Raynaud’s, affected areas of your skin often turn white.
This is then usually followed by a colour change to blue or a feeling of cold or numbness.
As your body heats up and circulation improves these areas may turn red, throb, tingle or swell.
Primary vs secondary Raynaud’s
There are two main types of Raynaud’s disease – primary and secondary.
- Referred to as Raynaud’s disease
- The most common form of Raynaud’s disease.
- It isn’t the result of an associated medical condition.
- Most sufferers won’t realise they have it, as it’s so mild, and thus won’t seek treatment.
- Referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Secondary Raynaud’s is caused by an underlying problem.
- Less common than primary Raynaud’s but often more serious to treat.
- Symptoms usually appear around the age of 40 for people, which is later than for sufferers of primary Raynaud’s.
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What causes Raynaud’s disease and phenomenon?
There’s no general consensus from doctors of what causes attacks of Raynaud’s disease.
However, doctors do recognise that exposure to cold temperatures – such as placing your hands in cold water – is the most likely trigger. For some people, emotional stress can also lead to attacks.
The causes of Raynaud’s phenomenon are more wide-ranging. For example:
- Connective tissue diseases
- Diseases of the arteries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
How can you prevent it?
To help prevent Raynaud’s attacks you can do the following:
- Dress warmly when outdoors. Wear appropriate clothing depending on the weather. Always try to make sure the ends of your body are covered during particularly cold spells.
- Warm your car. Make sure your car is heated up before driving off in cold weather.
- Stay warm indoors. Wear socks inside the house or gloves when you take things out of the freezer. Also, make sure you wear enough clothing when you go to bed.
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