By Joe Fleming
You may have heard the culturally satiric term “Women’s Winter” make its way around the social platforms last year. This refers to the onslaught of ice cold temperatures which office buildings drop their A/C to when the warm weather of summer arrives, leaving many (primarily women), bringing sweaters and blankets into the office on a day that might be 85 degrees outside.
You might not help but relate if you suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome and have found your own predicament in those summer months filled with ice cold beverages and chilly air conditioned rooms. With Raynaud’s, the body overreacts to an introduction of cold temperatures and over-constricts blood vessels in the skin, consequentially reducing the amount of blood that can flow to hands and feet (and rarely the nose and ears). This results in a numbness or extreme sensation of cold wherein the hands or feet turn white and blue. As blood flow returns to the affected areas, the skin may flush red again and even throb.
You might not think warm summer months would significantly impact someone with Raynaud’s, however, the drastic temperature changes from very warm to extreme A/C can definitely cause symptoms. Don’t miss these self-care tips for summer if you suffer from Raynaud’s:
Emotional stress has been linked to Raynaud’s attacks and can result in symptoms as severe as those caused by cold temperatures. Summer is a great time to go on a relaxing vacation, take up a new stress-relieving hobby like yoga, or take part in stress-fighting activities like volunteering in your community. If you find yourself in a stressful situation that brings on Raynaud’s symptoms, try as much as you can to remove yourself from the situation and practice quick stress-busting habits like deep breathing, mindful meditation, and talking to a helpful friend.
Warm Up Wisely
If your office building has the A/C settings on “igloo,” make sure to bring gloves, a hat, and warm socks to work to prevent any possible attacks. Much of your body’s core heat is lost through the head and other extremities. You may even consider speaking with the building owner or whomever controls the thermostat about your condition and potentially keeping temperatures at an energy-saving 78 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit regularly. When possible, work remotely from home on colder, rainier days where you want to avoid going outside.
Avoid Bad Habits
If you’re looking for the time to quit smoking, it’s always today! While not smoking is a year-round must for anybody as smoking can lead to cancer, heart disease, and more, for Raynaud’s sufferers specifically, it is vital to controlling blood flow. The nicotine in cigarettes causes skin temperature to drop and blood vessels to narrow, exacerbating Raynaud’s symptoms. In the same way, caffeinated beverages like teas and coffees have vasoconstrictive properties and should be avoided as well.
Let the beaming summer sun beckon you outside for self-care in the form of physical fitness! Not only does regular exercise play an important role in keeping your muscles, bones, and brain strong and fit, but it boosts blood flow and strengthens the heart muscle which can aid circulation. Routine exercise has also been shown to help relieve stress and promote more overall positive moods.
Monitor Your Health
Monitoring your health, weight, and mental well-being is always a good idea, but for the 10% of folks with Secondary Raynaud’s brought on by an underlying disease or illness, vigilant self-awareness can play an important role in preventing symptoms. For example, Secondary Raynaud’s has been linked to conditions including atherosclerosis or primary pulmonary hypertension (diseases of the arteries). Routine self-monitoring for a healthy blood pressure reading may help catch irregularities before they lead to serious circulation-related primary ailments that can result in Raynaud’s symptoms.
To prevent a possible Raynaud’s attack, avoid ordering beverages with ice in them or have gloves on hand to hold a cold drink or frozen package of food, for example. You may also invest in an insulated beverage holder, mugs, or glasses with stems which lets you consume a colder drink without having to deal with holding an ice cold container.
Preventing and treating Raynaud’s attacks takes acute attention and preparation, however, small steps like remembering gloves when you go to work, using insulated drinking cups, and taking part in activities that help relieve stress, can make a BIG difference. For more summer coping strategies, check out our post on Swimming Tips for People with Raynaud’s.
How do you manage Raynaud’s during the summer? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is help others “rebel against age”.