I have this quirky little thing called Raynaud’s Syndrome. Sometimes it’s called Raynaud’s Disease. Sometimes it’s called Raynaud’s Phenomenon. It all depends on the doctor you consult or the website you read. Either way, they all refer to this strange condition that causes fingers (and sometimes toes, ears or even the nose) to turn white and/or blue and feel numb or even painful.
Some people start getting symptoms from childhood, but most don’t start until adulthood. Most of the time, Raynaud’s Syndrome is not linked to any other health conditions. It’s just a nuisance. On occasion, it’s linked to something else, so if you think you have it, it is a good idea to know whether it’s an issue on its own or whether there is an underlying cause.
Since issues like stress and cold are the top triggers for an “attack of the symptoms,” winter, especially the holiday season, tends to be one of the worst times of the year for trying to keep the symptoms under control. This means that for the 5 to 10 percent of Americans affected by Raynaud’s Syndrome, the winter can be a real pain.
I’ve come up with a few great strategies for keeping the color in my fingertips throughout the winter, even during the most stressful times in the holiday season. Since I’ve got quite a list, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it with you, too:
• Keep your whole body toasty – Dress in layers, wear a good warm hat and try not to stay still for long periods of time. Raynaud’s can be triggered when any part of your body gets cold, not just your extremities. Stay warm.
• Buy very good gloves or mittens and socks – Even if it’s your whole body that can set off an attack, your extremities need to stay especially warm. Invest in some very warm and comfortable gloves or mittens and some thermal socks and boots. If you’re going to splurge on any part of your outerwear this winter, make it the covers for your extremities.
• Wear fingerless gloves indoors – If you can knit, you’re all set. Otherwise, pick up a pair of arthritis gloves to make it easier to sit and read or type without triggering an attack.
• Cover your face in cold weather – Wear a face mask or use a wide scarf in combination with your hat, to cover as much of your face as you can. As a bonus, this is great for your skin health, too, so you’ll take care of your Raynaud’s and your great looks simultaneously!
• Minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption – These can cause changes to your blood vessels, which can make Raynaud’s symptoms worse
• Quit smoking – Smoking can cause your blood vessels to constrict, placing you at a much higher risk of attacks.
• Control stress – Whether you like yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices or just taking a bubble bath at night, do what you can to keep your stress levels down.
Take great care of yourself overall. Eat healthfully and exercise regularly to promote cardiovascular health and lower your risk of Raynaud’s Syndrome symptoms.