Danielle McCarthy

Body

The silent condition over 200,000 Kiwis live with

The silent condition over 200,000 Kiwis live with

Have you ever been so cold your hands and feet hurt? Or even go numb? Do you dread winter more than anyone you know? You’re not alone – you may be experiencing Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition affecting more than 200,000 Kiwis.

Raynaud’s phenomenon (or Raynaud syndrome) occurs when the blood flow to the extremities (fingers and toes) becomes restricted, causing discomfort, numbness or tingling. In addition, the affected area will change colour, turning white or blue during an attack, then red when blood flow returns, then finally back to its usual colour.

Raynaud 's

It’s most often triggered by cold weather, sudden changes in temperature or emotionally stressful situations.

There are two types of Raynaud’s phenomenon – primary and secondary. While primary Raynaud’s is idiopathic (i.e. has no clear cause), secondary Raynaud’s may be indicative of a larger issue, often autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus. Primary Raynaud’s affects more women than men and is often first noticed between the ages of 15 and 30. Those who live in colder climates or who have an immediate family member with the condition are also more prone to developing it.

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The condition is easy to diagnose on one’s own, but if are unsure if your Raynaud’s is primary or secondary, a medical examination may be required to rule out any underlying causes.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Raynaud’s, but the condition is generally only a source of discomfort and shouldn’t impact much at all on the sufferer’s quality of life. Treatment is simple – stay warm. Given it usually only effects the extremities, wearing thick socks and gloves or using handwarmers should be enough to stave off any attacks. Exercise is also beneficial, increasing circulation around the body.

Are you affected by Raynaud’s phenomenon? How do you manage attacks? Share your tips with the Over60 community in the comments below.