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Raynaud's

This guide is intended for persons who have Raynaud's -- you may hear it called Raynaud's phenomenon, disease, or syndrome. Whatever the name, the basic problem in this condition is vasospasm -- that is, a blood vessel (the "vaso" part) suddenly constricts (the "spasm" part), usually after exposure to cold. Then, not enough blood can flow to the finger, toe or whatever part is affected. This is an exaggeration of the normal behavior of blood vessels. Tiny nerves tell the artery to open or close, depending on the situation. Usually with cold exposure, blood vessels constrict, or close a bit, to conserve heat, but for people with Raynaud's, that mechanism is overactive. The cause is not known. People with Raynaud's notice intensely cold fingers or toes, numbness, pain, and a color change -- typically from white to blue to red, and, eventually, back to normal, over a number of minutes.

Most people with Raynaud's (up to 90 percent or more) are otherwise healthy and have no other medical conditions. Raynaud's is quite common -- up to ten percent of healthy young women report symptoms suggestive of Raynaud's. The associated conditions, on the other hand, are rather rare, and include lupus, scleroderma and CREST syndrome, among others. There will be an opportunity to learn more about these conditions at the end of this guide.

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