‘Extremely painful’ digital ulcers can signal Raynaud’s disease
Doctor explains how to ease symptoms of Raynaud's Disease
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Raynaud’s disease, or syndrome, is one of the most common conditions in the UK, with around 10 million people thought to be affected. While there are slight variations within forms of the condition, the triggers are typically the same. Cold weather in particular is often to blame.
Asal Shirazi, from the Autoimmune Support and Awareness Foundation, spoke with Express.co.uk to explain more.
She said: “Basically in response to cold weather or stress or anxiety, your blood vessels constrict, shutting the blood supply to your extremities such as hands and feet.
“This is observed in change in colour of, for example, fingers from white to blue and back to normal as blood vessels reopen and blood flow resumes.
“It can be a painful and debilitating condition depending on the severity.
“Stress and anxiety release cortisol in your body, which directly affects the blood vessels and blood flow.”
She warned that this can be dangerous in some cases.
Ms Shirazi said: “In more severe cases this peripheral shut down of blood supply extends to a systemic shut down.
“That is, reduced blood supply to internal organs including heart and lungs and brain.”
Symptoms of Raynaud’s
“If the peripheral reduction in blood supply occurs often, then the person will develop extremely painful digital ulcers on fingers and toes which if left untreated can lead to loss of tissue and even the digit,” she said.
Digital ulcers is the term for ulcers on fingers and toes.
Other symptoms of Raynaud’s include:
- The affected area changes colour to white, then blue and then red
- Pins and needles
- Difficulty moving the affected area.
Aside from fingers and toes, it can also affect ears, nose, nipples and lips.
The symptoms of Raynaud’s can last from a few minutes to several hours.
Those with Raynaud’s can long periods without any experiencing symptoms, and sometimes the condition goes away altogether.
There are steps you can take to prevent developing Raynaud’s or to avoid triggering symptoms.
“It is important to take preventative measures by keeping warm, eating the correct nutritional food, and to avoid stress,” Ms Shirazi said.
“Although, currently the cost of living issues and fuel costs are putting many people at risk of worsening Raynaud’s attacks and health complications.”
The NHS advises:
- Keeping your home warm
- Wearing warm clothes during cold weather, especially on your hands and feet
- Exercising regularly – this helps improve circulation
- Breathing exercises or yoga to help you relax
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Different forms of Raynaud’s
The condition is often referred to as Raynaud’s disease or syndrome.
The two types of Raynaud’s are referred to as primary – when the condition develops by itself (the most common type) – and secondary – when it’s caused by another health condition.
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