by Dr. Brant McCartan
As the cold weather comes our way, our friends with Raynaud’s Phenomenon should take some precautions. Cold weather can bring about flair-up episodes of Raynaud’s Phenomenon or syndrome so you really should be careful. Quick temperature changes as well as prolonged periods of time in the cold can inspire a Raynaud’s attack.
For those readers who are fortunate enough to not have to deal with Raynaud’s lets take a second to talk about the disease. Raynaud’s is whats known as a “Vasospastic disorder” in which blood vessels in a persons body will cease to carry blood to the appropriate locations. This “vasospasm” does not occur all the time but instead occurs in attacks that can be caused by a variety of things from emotional stress to temperature change. For various reason, a Raynaud’s attack will cause blood to stop flowing to different parts of the body. Usually this is in the extremities, meaning a person’s arms or feet, and thus their fingers or toes will stop receiving blood. This loss of blood flow can of course be painful, but usually the initial signs of a Raynaud’s attack is color change of your fingers or toes. The typical color change goes from white, to blue, to red. These colors correlate to what is happening in the body as white is due to lack of blood flow, blue to the following oxygen depletion, and red to the re-established blood flow as the attack ends.
Raynaud’s, of course is not without symptoms. Many patients experience pain with their attacks. Other symptoms include nail issues as the oxygen and nutrient depletion will cause disrupted growth. Also, patients with Raynaud’s will need special consideration for surgery as temperature in the operating room can become an issue. If you are diabetic and have Raynaud’s, keeping your blood sugar under control may decrease your attacks. If you suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, let us know on your next visit! Even making your doctor aware can be beneficial to your long term health.