By Joe Fleming
Is your child with Raynaud’s Phenomenon heading back to school soon? When it comes to back to school season, your days may quickly fill with shopping, scheduling, organizing transportation, signing up for volunteer activities, coordinating sports calendars, the list goes on…
Don’t let managing Raynaud’s symptoms sneak up on your child or you. Check out these important reminders:
To many, the autumn season is all about pumpkin spice, football games, and the leaves changing color. For Raynaud’s sufferers, however, autumn equals the first signs of outdoor weather shifting to colder temperatures and increased risk of attacks. For students with Raynaud’s who are involved in fall sports like football, cross country, and soccer, avoiding an attack may include doubling up on chemical hand warmers, gloves, thick socks, and hats during practices and games.
Not an athlete? Your child may still want to attend an outdoor sporting event at their school like the homecoming football game, which means they have to be extra mindful of keeping their extremities warm and covered from exposure. Drastic temperature changes from exiting a 40 degree field and entering a 75 degree room can also bring blood rushing back so quickly for someone with Raynaud’s that it causes swelling, tenderness, and pain.
Raynaud’s shouldn’t hold your son or daughter back from enjoying the sports and hobbies they love. With the right preparation techniques like monitoring weather on practice and game days, having backup gloves, ear warmers, heated hand warmers, and packing blankets for watching the big game, you can help prevent a Raynaud’s attack.
Backpacks weighed down by textbooks, binders, agendas, writing utensils, laptops, and other essential items are no longer just a problem for college students. In fact, students as young as high school and middle school are finding themselves lugging around considerably more weight than they really should. Experts recommend kids only carry 10 to 15% of their body weight in a backpack to prevent spinal stress, muscle knots, and other back issues.
For students with Raynaud’s, however, it’s not just posture and spine concerns that come up when discussing backpacks. Heavy backpacks can also restrict blood flow to the arms, especially when not worn correctly or when missing cushioning pads on the shoulder straps that better distribute the weight. Combine restricted circulation with cold air-conditioned classrooms and you may have a recipe for a Raynaud’s attack. For a young person especially, these attacks can be painful and even embarrassing in front of their peers.
As more schools shift to digital formats for textbooks and homework assignments, the actual load of books a student has to carry may drop, which can make a big dent in backpack weight. Until then, however, encourage your child to use their locker for storing items they don’t need immediately, and work with them to go through and empty their backpack of unnecessary items they may be toting around.
Heading back for a brand new school year is filled with plenty of excitement, but it can also be challenging and stressful when it comes to making new friends, taking on harder classes and assignments, and adding more homework to the daily schedule. For some young people, these are stressful triggers that may bring on Raynaud’s attacks.
The release of stress hormones when you feel under pressure actually triggers the body to constrict blood vessels, narrowing the supply of blood to critical extremities. For people with Raynaud’s, this exacerbates an existing condition where that vascular constriction is amplified leaving hands, feet, ears, or even the nose turning white or blue from lack of blood.
Experiencing an attack in school may attract unwanted attention and embarrassment for a young person. As a parent, you may consider speaking with the school nurse and your child’s teachers about Raynaud’s. Discuss how your child may wear special items indoors (gloves, scarf, etc.) to prevent an attack, and ask if they will allow students to use microwaves at the school to heat hand warmers and other items during the cooler months.
Bonus tip: Add fingerless gloves to the Back to School shopping list this year! Back in fashion and more widely available in fun, colorful designs, fingerless gloves offer full dexterity while keeping wrists and hands warm, thus helping to keep blood flowing to the fingers.
What other Back to School tips do you have for students with Raynaud’s Phenomenon? Please share your input!
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”.