Raynaud's disease is a disorder of the blood vessels that supply blood to the skin. This condition causes the fingers, toes and occasionally the ears, nose, tongue, knees and nipples to feel cold and numb.
A typical Raynaud's attack occurs in stages and may appear as follows:
The part of the body first affected becomes white as a result of the reduction in blood supply; next, the appearance of a blue tinge occurs as oxygen becomes depleted in the area red indicates that the blood supply has returned to normal.
It should be noted that while the above experience is considered typical, not every person with Raynaud's disease experiences these changes nor do they happen in every attack.
The origin of Raynaud's disease remains unknown, although, some theories say that an antibody immune response may be involved. This is supported by the fact that patients with Raynaud's have abnormal immunologic test results.
Other theories for Raynaud's disease talk about vascular hyperactivity that is caused by cold temperatures or emotional stress. However, the question of why the blood vessels overreact remains unanswered.
To learn more about Raynaud’s it is useful to first gain an understanding of the way that the body conserves heat and what happens when it is faced with a change in temperature...
Your body, to keep itself warm, reduces blood circulation to the fingers and toes. How? It achieves this by narrowing the small arteries under the skin of the extremities. This is a normal response but people suffering with Raynaud's disease become extremely sensitive to cold and the arteries that go to their fingers and toes go into "vasospasm".
Because exposure to cold temperatures can have a dramatic impact on sufferers simple things like washing hands with cold water, taking something out of the freezer or coming in contact with a cold wind may trigger an attack. In some people a stressful event is enough to provoke a Raynaud's attack.
Types of Raynaud's Disease
Primary Raynaud's This happens when there is no other underlying condition associated with the disorder and most commonly affects the hands and feet.
Raynaud's Phenomenon This is also known as Secondary Raynaud's and is a condition often associated with autoimmune diseases or connective tissue disorders such as scleroderma, systemic lupus, polymyositis, Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease
Common Raynaud's disease symptoms include color changes in the skin and numbness and pain due to the decreased flow of blood. A tingling feeling, swelling and pain may occur as circulation improves.
Raynaud's Phenomenon could damage your skin and the soft connective tissues in the affected area.
Additionally, ulcers and blisters may develop, become infected and take some time to heal. Severe cases can lead to gangrene and the loss of a finger.
Raynaud's attacks may affect one or two fingers or toes and the affected digits can be different every time. Even though Raynaud's Phenomenon is not a life threatening disease, severe cases cause disability and attacks may grow more severe.
The main goal of Raynaud’s disease treatment is to prevent or reduce the number and severity of the attacks; the secondary goal is to prevent tissue damage. With respect to medication there are some drugs the doctor may prescribe to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation, however, these drugs are not specific to Raynaud's disease and many of them have side effects.
“Dry body brushing" may help increase circulation. Once a day, starting at the feet, rub the body with a washcloth in a circular motion up towards the heart; all body parts above the heart are rubbed downwards.
If you live in a place with seasons, wear a scarf, gloves or mittens and a good pair of socks and boots at all times during the colder months. A hat is also very important since the body loses a lot of heat through the head. Wear layered clothing and a warm coat with long cuffs.
During the warmer months it is good to have a sweater handy as air conditioning can trigger an attack. If you are indoors, wear socks and lower the air conditioning at home; never walk around barefoot.
To learn about other useful tips and proven natural cures for Raynaud’s Disease visit raynaud's disease.
Pam Brown is an editor at yourbodycanheal.com. To learn more about Raynaud’s Disease visit http://www.yourbodycanheal.com/raynaudsdisease.html
For information on natural health remedies and to obtain a FREE health report on Healing Foods and Herbs - including some that improve circulation visit alternative health supplements.
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