For those who have Raynaud’s disease, you’re very much aware that it’s not much of a disease at all, more so it’s just a nuisance. You may find that the blood vessels to your fingers and toes tend to overreact to certain situations by limiting blood flow. The attack may only last a few minutes, but it leaves your extremities numb and they may change color.
This rheumatic phenomenon has doctors scratching their heads since there’s no known cause. However, there a few things to look out for to make sure you don’t have an attack.
Exposure to the Cold
Exposing yourself to anything cold is the most common trigger for a Raynaud’s attack. Not only can this be caused by taking a step outside in the dead of winter, but it can be caused by placing your hands in cold water for an extended period of time, grabbing something from the freezer, or even ingesting something cold like ice cream!
Anytime your body encounters something cold, it’s normal for your body to narrow its blood vessels to keep yourself warm. However, individuals who have Raynaud’s have an overreaction to these cold temperatures. Although the body narrows its blood vessels to keep itself warm, it does so in such an excessive way that they’re are tighter than normal, and in the process, restricts blood flow completely. This most often occurs in the fingers and toes.
Your extremities may also feel cold and numb, and may change to white or blue in color. When blood flow returns, your extremities may throb and tingle and turn red as the blood rushes back to your extremities.
Did you know that emotional stress affects our blood vessels? When we normally experience strong emotions and stress, we have an increase in hormones that have can impair blood flow. As part of the “fight or flight” response, the hormones cause blood vessels to constrict to encourage more blood to the center of the body instead of the extremities. For those who have Raynaud’s, the stress can trigger a spasm.
Because of the nicotine in cigarettes, smoking can interfere with your cardiovascular system’s ability to function properly and can encourage a Raynaud’s attack. The addictive chemical causes blood vessels to constrict, which limits blood flow and oxygen to your extremities and organs.
Wearing Tight Fitting Clothes
Wearing tight clothes or jewelry can easily decrease or cut off your circulation. Since normal circulation is an issue, avoid wearing hair bands on your wrists, tight rings, or shoes that are a bit too small, because these can easily affect the blood flow to your extremities.