What is Raynaud's disease
Raynaud’s disease is a common condition. It affects up to 20% of the adult population worldwide. There may be as many as 10 million people with the condition in the UK.
Raynaud's disease causes some areas of your body such as your fingers and toes to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. In Raynaud's disease, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas.
Symptoms of Raynaud's disease
Raynaud's affects your blood circulation. When you're cold, anxious or stressed, your fingers and toes may change colour. Other Symptoms can include: Pain, Numbness, Pins and Needles, Difficulty moving the affected area.
Some people also find their ears, nose, lips or nipples are affected. The symptoms of Raynaud's may last from a few minutes to a few hours.
This condition tends not to go away, but it also tends not to get any worse. Most people with primary Raynaud's can manage their symptoms with minor lifestyle changes, and don't need medication.
Causes of Raynaud's
There are two different types of Raynaud's, Primary and Secondary. Primary is usually the less serious of the two types as the condition is mild and manageable whilst people experiencing secondary Raynaud's will usually have more severe symptoms.
It seems that primary Raynaud's is caused by disruptions in how the nervous system controls blood vessels. There is no clear evidence on the causes of Raynaud's. There's some evidence that primary Raynaud's may be an inherited condition, as cases have been known to run in families.
Causes of secondary Raynaud's include: Diseases of the arteries: Atherosclerosis, a build-up of plaque in blood vessels, or Buerger's syndrome, a disorder where blood vessels in the hands and feet become inflamed, can cause Raynaud's symptoms. Primary pulmonary hypertension has also been linked to the disease.
Risk factors for primary Raynaud's include:
Risk factors for secondary Raynaud's include:
When to refer
Most patients can be managed by the doctor. In the following circumstances a referral is necessary.
In most cases Raynaud’s is caused due to connective tissue disorder, thus a referral to the rheumatologist is necessary.
Many times, you can help prevent symptoms of Raynaud's. One of the most important things you can do is to stop smoking. Nicotine shrinks arteries and decreases blood flow. Other ways you can help prevent symptoms include:
Often, this may be enough to manage Raynaud's phenomenon, although several types of drugs are used to treat Raynaud's phenomenon, for example:
Most cases of Raynaud's are not severe. Avoiding cold and stress, and not smoking, can help manage symptoms.
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