Cold Drink Strategies for Raynaud’s Sufferers

Cold Drink Strategies for Raynaud's sufferers

The autoimmune blog Sick with Optimism recently published a list of cold drink strategies for Raynaud’s sufferers titled “5 Cold Drink Hacks for Raynaud’s Protection.”

The author (not identified), who also suffers from scleroderma, shares her story of being bullied as a child in the snow. Reading about the episode is enough to send chills down any Frostie’s spine! Sad to think how many of us have lived through such incidents without understanding why our reaction to snow and ice was so much stronger than that experienced by other children.

She rightly describes a main trigger of attacks as due to changes in temperature. That’s not something most doctors share with us. We’re not only susceptible to the cold, but any dramatic change in temperature – even going from a freezing cold store into the hot and humid weather outdoors can cause a Raynaud’s attack.

She also makes the comment that “each episode can cause permanent damage to nerves and blood vessels.” This is an extreme outcome, but something more of an issue for severe sufferers like the author with the secondary form of Raynaud’s. What is true is that Raynaud’s tends to be a conditioned response, meaning 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.

The good news is 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 cold 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. More doctors should advise us that 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.

One way to take control is the focus of this article on how to handle cold drinks, and it’s particularly timely for the warmer summer season. It can be a challenge for those living with Raynaud’s to hold a cold soda, even when we’re warm and parched from the heat. Here are five ideas shared in the article for tackling the task:

  1. Use a Mug or Cup with a Handle – Seems like a simple solution, just avoid touching the cold surface. Options include everything from a coffee mug to a handled Mason jar. This solution is great when you’re at home or at a friend’s house, but what do you do in a restaurant – order your Coke in a coffee mug? Not a great idea for public venues. So we offer another option: Order your drink in a glass with a stem, an alternative to a handle. Sprite in a wine glass not only looks festive, it will keep the chill off your Frostie paws!
  2. Use a Koozie – We all have them with assorted logos collected from various sites we’ve visited or brands we’ve saluted at some time in our lives. These cozy foam enclosures are meant to keep items cold, but also work great to protect our fingers from touching the cold drink or food item. I use them regularly for eating yogurt, and make sure that family homes I visit frequently have them handy for my visits.
  3. Straws – These have become an endangered species recently due to environmental concerns. Plastic straws are now banned in some localities, and even when available, they have to be requested in restaurants. Paper alternatives aren’t nearly as sturdy, but can certainly do the job of helping Frosties avoid touching a cold glass. Just slide the glass over close to you on the table, insert the straw and use the straw when you take sips. The author suggests carrying your own reusable straw to avoid situations where they are no longer available. We agree it’s a good strategy and now carry colorful reusable straws in our Raynaud’s store. Since reusable means “stainless steel,” and metal gets cold, our straws include a silicon rubber tip to avoid touching the straw directly. They come packed in their own travel pouch, along with a cleaning brush, and are dishwasher safe.
  4. Coffee Sleeves – These paper protectors should be available at most coffee shops. It’s just that they are meant to be used for hot drink protection; Frosties need them more for iced frappes and frozen smoothies! That’s a great idea if you happen to be ordering a cold drink in a coffee shop, but what about if you’re on an airplane? Keeping with the coffee theme, ask for a cold drink to be served in a Styrofoam cup. Yes, they may soon join the list of endangered species like plastic straws, but while they are still an option, use it! For the same reason hot drinks are dispensed in Styrofoam – to protect fingers from the heat – it works the same way to protect against cold drinks, so give it a try!
  5. Insulated Reusable Bottles and Cups – Insulated products work like koozies. They are meant to keep cold drinks cold, and warm drinks warm. But they also provide a protective layer between the cold drinks and your fingertips. If you’re on the go, insulated reusable bottles with lids are a good option, and are increasingly available for environmental reasons. In the home, insulated plastic cups come in many designs and colors. Unlike using a coffee mug for a cold drink, no one will question using a stylish insulated cup, and your drink won’t stand out from what you use to serve your guests – they work great for everyone!

One final suggestion: For those who have an issue with their tongues being affected by Raynaud’s, keep your threshold in mind when having a cold drink. Tongues and lips can also be susceptible to attacks when exposed to cold temperatures, so be careful!

Here’s a link to the full article: 5 Cold Drink Hacks for Raynaud’s Protection. If you have cold drink strategies that work for you, please share them with us!