September 26, Redding, CT – “Why am I freezing when everyone around me is perfectly comfortable?” If this is a question you’ve asked yourself, you might have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
October is Raynaud’s Awareness Month, the start of the time of year when cooler temperatures are most problematic for the estimated 15-30 million people with Raynaud’s phenomenon (aka Raynaud’s syndrome or disease). The disorder — triggered by cold and stress — causes the small blood vessels in the fingers, toes and other extremities to go into spasms and reduce blood flow. The skin may turn white, then blue and red. Color changes are a response to the lack of oxygen to the digits.
According to Lynn Wunderman, founder and chair of the Raynaud’s Association (www.raynauds.org), “Only 10% of Raynaud’s sufferers seek medical attention because they don’t realize that the painful spasms and color changes in their fingers and toes are not normal. Their inner voice may start to wonder why they’re the only ones wearing gloves and sweaters when others are in short sleeves and sandals. Or they may wonder why their fingers and toes go numb when they’re stressed.”
If these questions sound familiar, take this quick, five question quiz at www.raynaudsquiz.org to learn whether you might have Raynaud’s.
For anyone whose inner voice is asking these questions, the Raynaud’s Association urges them to see a doctor to confirm their suspicions. Wunderman notes that an underlying condition may be the cause.
“Fortunately, only 10% of cases are secondary to systemic scleroderma, lupus and other serious diseases,” says Wunderman. “However, in those cases, awareness of such a problem may allow for earlier medical intervention.”
Although there’s no cure yet, the Raynaud’s Association offers sufferers support, strategies and product suggestions to live more comfortably during the colder months. Resources include: