Raynaud’s condition, triggered by drops in temperature or an increase in stress, causes the blood vessels in the fingers and toes contract, cutting off blood supply.
It can also affect the tiny arteries in the nose, ears and tongue.
Typically, Raynaud’s causes the fingers or toes to turn white and numb.
Then, as the blood flow returns, they turn blue and eventually red, accompanied by a burning sensation. Attacks can last from a few minutes to an hour.
Nine out of ten cases are in women, with most sufferers having their first attack before the age of 40.
Although attacks peak in the cold winter months, symptoms can be triggered by everyday tasks such as taking food out of the freezer, air conditioning, or even stress — all of which cause blood vessels to contract.
Most patients can cope by wrapping up warm, although some develop painful weeping ulcers, which can become infected.
Although Raynaud’s is common, only a small number of patients go on to develop a more serious connective tissue disease called scleroderma.
It can cause disability and can be life-threatening, which is why it is important to be diagnosed early on so any complications of the condition can be properly treated.
Raynaud’s has a straightforward treatment and can be temporarily cured with a drug called nifedipine which relaxes the muscles of your heart and blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.