An article in the UK edition of Reader’s Digest explains Raynaud’s. It’s titled Everything you need to know about Raynaud’s disease, and it does a good job of the basics and more.
Unlike most articles on the condition, it starts with an explanation of what’s actually happening in the body during an attack and why: It’s a natural response to cold or stress that the blood vessels narrow and redirect blood to the core for protecting the body’s vital organs. You’ve heard the expression “Cold Hands, Warm Heart?” The Digest explains, ” Cold hands really can help you keep a warm heart.” But for people with Raynaud’s, this natural response is exaggerated, hence the painful spasm Frosties experience.
The article goes on to review the triad of color changes in the extremities involved in Raynaud’s attacks – first white, then blue, then red when the body is warm or calm again and the blood rushes back into the extremities as blood flow is restored. Some sources neglect to point out that not all sufferers go through these three color phases, but this one does, explaining that some won’t go past white, or more extreme cases may evolve to a purple or a greyish black phase. Since there’s no formal test to diagnose Raynaud’s, it’s important to recognize the color changes associated with the triggers in order for a medical professional to associate a patient’s symptoms with Raynaud’s.
While the article neglects the issue of caffeine, smoking is mentioned as potentially aggravating symptoms. They also cover how working with vibrating tools and equipment can cause a version of Raynaud’s referred to as Vibration White Finger. While they don’t go into the difference between primary vs. secondary Raynaud’s, they do mention that the disorder can be a by-product of more serious autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
In listing “troubles” associated with Raynaud’s, they include the issue of nipples and painful breastfeeding, a subject often ignored by many resources. We also appreciate the fact that they point out that gangrene resulting from Raynaud’s is rare. Many Frosties contact us afraid that the condition means they will eventually lose a finger or a toe, which is highly unlikely. But it is important to pay attention to skin ulcers and ensure that they heal properly to avoid extreme outcomes.
As for treatments, the Digest covers dressing warmly (layers, gloves), avoiding triggers such as air conditioning and stress, and using insulated cups when holding cold drinks. As for medications, they don’t cover the full category of calcium channel blockers, but do mention nifedipine (brand name Procardia) as being the most commonly prescribed drug for reducing Raynaud’s symptoms, along with antidepressants (while effective, not generally prescribed specifically for Raynaud’s), the E.D. drugs (Viagra, Cialis) and the use of Botox injections.
They end on a positive note: perhaps chocolate will be the answer for Raynaud’s sufferers – amen!
Here’s a link to the full article: Everything you need to know about Raynaud’s disease
Note: For more information on the potential benefits of chocolate for Raynaud’s sufferers, here are two past articles on the subject: