Learn more about a sensitivity to the cold
Have you noticed that your hands, feet and nose are always cold? You may see notches appear on your hands, and your hands or feet may turn white or red as the temperature cools – even when you’re in an air-conditioned space. And find yourself asking 'why are my hands, feet and nose always cold?' If you suffer from these symptoms, you may have a disorder called Raynaud’s phenomenon.
What is Raynaud’s phenomenon?
Raynaud’s phenomenon affects blood vessels. With this disorder, the blood vessels in your hands, feet and nose narrow when you experience cold temperatures or when you’re feeling stressed.
The disorder has two forms: primary and secondary. The primary form is most common, with the secondary form found most often in individuals with connective tissue diseases like lupus and scleroderma.
If you suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, cold and stress cause a strong reaction in your body. An attack occurs when the blood vessels narrow faster and tighter than usual. For someone with Raynaud’s phenomenon, cooler temperatures can cause an attack, even when it’s only mildly cold.
In the midst of an attack, your fingers, toes and nose may changes colors. They may change from white to blue or red, and feel numb. When an attack ends, blood flow returns to the fingers and toes causing them to throb and tingle.
Raynaud’s phenomenon impacts people of all ages; women are most commonly affected.
The primary form shows signs in people between 15 and 25 years old, while the secondary form usually appears after age 35.
Prevention and treatment options
It’s important to protect yourself, especially your fingers and toes, in chilly conditions.
- Wear gloves.
- Wear socks and closed-toe shoes.
- Keep a blanket and sweater nearby, even in the summer months.
Individuals suffering from primary Raynaud’s phenomenon may never need to seek treatment because it isn’t severe and symptoms are mild.
If you are suffering from secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as blood pressure medicine, which relaxes blood vessels. In addition to protecting your hands and feet from cold temperatures, you should:
- Avoid emotional stressors.
- Avoid cold temperatures.
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid tools that vibrate in your hands.
Women who are pregnant shouldn’t take medications to treat Raynaud’s phenomenon. Some women may find that their attacks decrease while pregnant.
Individuals suffering from Raynaud’s phenomenon are at higher risk of frostbite. Keep yourself and your family members bundled up during the cooler months. If you’re concerned about your sensitivity to cold temperatures, stop by a Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center to have your symptoms evaluated and to determine an action plan for your health. Our walk-in clinics in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Shreveport and Natchitoches, Louisiana, offer fast, effective treatment.
Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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