Washington Newspaper Editorial on Raynaud’s

We found an editorial in the Valley Bugler, a newspaper published in Reton, Washington.  The publisher/editor is a Frostie, her mother was a Frostie, and the editorial is about the advent of Fall and the coming winter months that bring on chills, something we all lament!

It’s great seeing local papers build awareness of Raynaud’s, but it’s hard reading some of the untruths about this disorder.  We recently published a post on 10 Myths About Raynaud’s Phenomenon, and this article includes one or two.

First, the author states “I was born with a circulation disease called Raynaud’s Syndrome. It is a circulation disease that was passed down genetically through my mom’s side of the family.”   Poor circulation during attacks is a symptom, not the cause of Raynaud’s.  Calling it a “circulation disease” would imply a vascular factor, and most sufferers have perfectly normal circulation when not exposed to cold temperatures or stress that can trigger attacks.

As for the genetic factor, researchers haven’t determined a specific genetic link for Raynaud’s, although in many families, more than one member has the condition.  There is a theory that family connections could be related to  increased awareness of Raynaud’s among relatives vs. true heredity, since only one in ten sufferers knows that their pain and discomfort has a medical explanation.  For those where Raynaud’s is secondary to a more serious autoimmune disease, genetics can play a role.

Another myth the author conveys is that Raynaud’s is destined to get worse with age.  She witnessed her mother’s severity increasing as she got older, and worries hers will follow the same path.  Some sufferers do find it worsens over the years, others find it gets less intense – there’s really no definitive pattern.  Based on the information shared with us by women who are pregnant or just delivered their first born, the information would suggest there’s a hormonal connection, but one has yet to be clinically proven, and the pattern seems to go both ways:  Some women tell us they’ve had Raynaud’s for years and it went away once they delivered their first child.  Others tell us they never had symptoms until they became pregnant.  The author states that her Raynaud’s became increasingly severe once she delivered her son, then she was later diagnosed with an autoimmune disease of the joints called Spondyloarthropathy, so her Raynaud’s became secondary, and at that point, yes, it would take on more severe symptoms.

The important thing to know is that Raynaud’s tends to be a conditioned response.  So, the more attacks you have, the more likely you are to have more frequent attacks and they can get progressively more severe. Repeated exposure to the cold and stress can aggravate the condition, increasing the frequency and severity of attacks over time.

By the same token, if you can decrease the onset of attacks, you are less likely to trigger future ones, and while they won’t necessarily go away, they can become less frequent and less intense.  That’s why it’s important to dress properly, avoid exposure and stress when possible (gloves in the freezer, etc.), and make whatever lifestyle changes you can that may help reduce the onset of attacks.

So we’re not helpless on this issue. We do have some (albeit limited) control over the condition. And if we don’t take
control, long term – at the extreme – we can do permanent damage to our blood vessels.

Fortunately the author states that she is making progress in controlling her symptoms: “In a nutshell, I’m now on the road to finding pain relief and managing my Reynaud’s in a way that is proactive and keeps my fingers from turning into ice blocks.”  Yes, two-thirds through the article, Raynaud’s became Reynaud’s, a common misspelling, but unusual to see it done in the middle of a published editorial (which you would expect to go through some form of editing process, particularly since the author is the editor and publisher…).

We’re just grateful for the exposure and glad to see the story encourage those with cold extremities to seek medical assistance.  A sincere thank you to the Valley Bugler!