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What is it? Raynaud's (ra-nods) syndrome (sin-drom) is a problem with the way arteries carry blood to your fingers or toes. These arteries spasm (tighten), often because of cold weather. This problem is more common in women than men. It happens more often as we get older.
Causes: You may have an immune (ih-mewn) system that does not work well. The immune system is how your body fights infection. Diseases, such as lupus and some kinds of arthritis (arth-ri-tis) may cause Raynaud's syndrome. Smoking, some medicines, or chemicals you come in contact with may make you more likely to have Raynaud's syndrome. Sometimes it is not known what causes Raynaud's syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms: With cold or stress, your fingers or toes may be pale and then turn blue or red. Other signs may be pain, numbness, or tingling. You may have long-term infections around your fingernails or toenails. Symptoms begin slowly over many years.
Care:. You may have blood tests and x-rays of your hands and feet. You may also have a cold challenge test done on your hands. To do this test, caregivers put your hands in cold water. Keeping your hands or feet warm usually helps your symptoms. Medicine may be needed to open your blood vessels more to get blood to your fingers and toes. You may also be given medicines to help your blood vessels dilate (open) and to lessen the pain. If the Raynaud's syndrome is very bad you may need surgery.
Do's and Don'ts: To keep from having a Raynaud's syndrome attack, stop smoking and stay away from cigarette smoke. Wear gloves. Keep your entire body warm. Dress warm if you are outside in cold weather. Face the sun as much as possible but always wear a sunscreen to protect your skin. Learn ways to control stress. Follow your caregiver's advice if you have another disease, such as lupus or arthritis.
You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about Raynaud's syndrome and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.