What is Raynaud's disease or syndrome?
Raynaud's disease or syndrome isn't just about cold hands and feet, fingers and toes. It's a blood circulation disorder that makes daily life difficult for sufferers, with consequences varying in severity from case to case.
Causes of Raynaud's disease
Raynaud's disease or syndrome is not a harmless condition. On the contrary, it's affecting more and more people in France. According to data compiled in various countries, an estimated 3% to 10% of the population suffer from Raynaud's disease or syndrome. The symptoms of Raynaud's disease are no picnic for sufferers.
Raynaud's syndrome or disease is most often triggered by exposure to cold. Lhe blood vessels contract temporarily (vasoconstriction), depriving the body's extremities of oxygen.
Seizures can also be caused by a number of factors:
- temperature change
- exposure to humidity
Other factors also promote and sometimes trigger these symptoms
- the tobaccowhich can lead to vasoconstriction (reduction in the size of blood vessels by contraction of their walls);
- caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, cola).
So, to prevent Raynaud's disease and with winter just around the corner, remember to cover your extremities. But also, and above all, think about preserving your health by avoiding all forms of stress and prolonged exposure to the cold.
The two forms of Raynaud's disease
Raynaud's disease and Raynaud's syndrome are two slightly different conditions.
Raynaud's disease is the most common form, affecting 90% of all cases. Most of the time, symptoms are mild: an unpleasant sensation of cold and numbness, but these symptoms do not cause damage to vessels or tissues. It most often occurs between the ages of 15 and 25. In most cases, the disease resolves itself after a few years.
The second form, Raynaud's syndrome, is much rarer, but also more serious. It is caused by diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as scleroderma. Raynaud's syndrome usually appears around the age of forty.
The main symptoms of Raynaud's disease
There is often a change in skin color in the affected area, from natural pink to white, as blood flow through the arteries decreases. This change in hue is accompanied by numbness and chilling, with or without loss of sensitivity.
Sometimes, the affected area even turns blue, indicating that it is no longer supplied with oxygen.
As the affected areas warm up or the stress subsides, tingling, throbbing and, more rarely, pain may be felt. Occasionally, there may be slight swelling and redness.
How to prevent symptoms?
To prevent attacks, we recommend dressing warmly in winter, layering thin layers on top of each other. It's also advisable to wear gloves, mittens, warm socks and a hat, as the body loses a lot of heat through the extremities and scalp.
Be careful not to turn up the air conditioning too loudly in your home. In winter, attacks can occur at night, so remember to wear gloves and socks. Avoid wearing tight-fitting jewelry on your hands, ankles or feet. In short, stay well covered, as a drop in internal temperature can lead to seizures.
Cigarette smoking should be avoided at all costs, since, in addition to the harmful effects of smoking, it constricts blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke. Smoking also increases the risk of obstruction of small vessels, which can lead to gangrene.
Caffeine also has a vasoconstrictive effect, so trying to limit its consumption can be beneficial. Learning to manage stress better can help reduce the number of attacks caused by this factor.
Physical activity is important. They raise body temperature by improving blood circulation, and contribute to relaxation and therefore stress reduction.
Avoid drugs that cause vasoconstriction, such as decongestants, certain weight-loss products, migraine medications containing ergotamine and certain contraceptive pills.
What treatments are available for Raynaud's disease?
There is as yet no cure for Raynaud's disease, but it is possible to reduce the frequency of attacks.
People with Raynaud's disease rarely need medication. However, they do become necessary for people with Raynaud's syndrome. Vasodilators are proposed to facilitate the irrigation of the extremities by increasing the opening of blood vessels.
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