Do you regularly suffer from cold hands and feet? You could be one of many people in the UK who are living with a condition lots of us do not know much about – Raynaud’s.
As February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month, it is the perfect time for me to talk about the phenomenon, especially with the particularly cold weather we have had recently.
Raynaud’s is common and is not usually serious, although it can have some unpleasant symptoms. Caused by poor blood circulation, it usually results in fingers and toes changing colour when someone is cold, anxious or stressed.
The change in colour usually ranges from white as blood flow is restricted, to blue as blood vessels react. The skin then will turn red as the blood flow returns to normal.
Other Raynaud’s symptoms to look out for include pain in your hands and feet, numbness, pins and needles and difficulty moving the affected area. Some people also find their ears, nose and lips are affected.
The symptoms of Raynaud’s may last from a few minutes to a few hours, but there are measures you can try to help reduce the impact it has on your life.
It sounds simple, but wrapping up warm is vitally important and effective. Make sure your home is heated to at least 18C and wear plenty of thin layers, which is more effective than one chunky layer.
Get yourself a pair of thermal gloves to wear when you’re out of the house and put two pairs of socks on for extra warmth. Regular exercise helps improve blood flow too!
Don’t drink too much tea, coffee or cola as caffeine and other stimulants can stop you relaxing. You could even try yoga and breathing exercises to aid stress relief.
It may be time to see your GP if Raynaud’s is affecting your daily life or if your symptoms are getting worse. Take your child to the doctor if they are under 12 and are demonstrating symptoms of Raynaud’s, just to be on the safe side.
Your GP may prescribe a medicine called nifedipine to help improve your circulation. Some people need to take nifedipine every day whilst others only use it to prevent Raynaud’s – for example during cold weather which brings it on for so many.
I hope Raynaud’s Awareness Month helps improve the lives of everyone who is affected, especially those who weren’t aware of the condition!