As the mercury is dropping progressively, many winter-related ailments are on rise. Apart from flu, cough and cold, arthritis flare-up, aches and pains, Raynaud’s syndrome could also affect some people including women, those who suffer from high levels of stress and people with certain autoimmune conditions. (Also read: Can eating curd in winters make you sick? Nutritionist busts myths)
“Raynaud’s syndrome is a disorder of blood vessels in which small blood vessels constrict in response to cold. It is called vasospasm. It occurs in blood vessels mostly of fingers but may also be seen in ear lobes, nose etc where arteries are usually end arteries and which are exposed to outside cold weather,” says Dr. Aditya Kumar Singh, HOD and Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome
In Raynaud’s syndrome, fingers become cold, numb and white on exposure to cold temperature, changing colour to blue and upon reperfusion or recirculation of blood, become red. It may become very painful.
“Though usually occurs in young females, without any other disease but may also present during stress, it may occur along with other autoimmune disease like scleroderma, in worker handling vibrating tools etc. It is more prevalent if first degree relatives also have Raynaud’s syndrome,” says Dr Singh.
If fingers become numb and painful very easily in winters, then should consult a specialist and with proper care and treatment, disease can be controlled well.
“Usually self-care suffices. Treatment consists of avoiding cold. Keeping fingers warm and cosy with protective gloves is helpful. They not only keep fingers warm but also prevents cuts and injuries. People prone to Raynaud’s should not hold cold glass or iced drinks in hands as that can trigger spasm. Also, regular exercises to increase blood flow will help. Medications can help like nifidipine which is a vasodilator and a calcium channel blocker. Some medications should be avoided and taken only with specialist consultation specially beta blockers, migraine medications, cold and cough medications and other vasoconstricting drugs,” says the expert.
Dr Singh says if the condition doesn’t improve after medication and you are at risk of severe problems, like losing your fingers or toes, you might be advised to undergo surgery called sympathectomy; these procedures require cutting the nerves to the blood vessels in your skin to prevent spasm in fingers.