Six ways to alleviate Raynaud’s disease
Raynaud’s disease, often characterized by its telltale cold fingers and toes, is more than just a fleeting discomfort for people. It’s a window into the complexities of our vascular system.
While managing Raynaud’s can be challenging, understanding its ties to other conditions, like thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders, can shed light on effective treatment strategies. I’m a believer in getting to the root cause.
Let’s delve into six of the most recommended ways to alleviate the symptoms of this condition.
- Biofeedback Training: I was trained in neurofeedback in the early 2000s for the fun of it, but never practiced on patients because I was a pharmacist. This technique employs electronic monitoring to convey information about physiological processes. By understanding your body’s responses, you can, with practice, learn to promote relaxation and warmth in your extremities. It’s not a cure, though.
- Calcium channel blockers: Medications like amlodipine or nifedipine can help relax the blood vessels and increase blood flow to the extremities. These drugs have been proven effective in decreasing the severity and frequency of Raynaud’s attacks in many patients, but again, it’s not a cure.
- Protect yourself from cold: Simple measures like wearing gloves can make a significant difference. Ensure you dress warmly and limit exposure to cold environments.
- Avoid caffeine and smoking: Nicotine and caffeine constrict blood vessels and limit blood flow. Avoiding them can help reduce the symptoms of Raynaud’s. On this continuum, where meds restrict blood flow, ADHD medications and oral decongestants should be avoided or minimized.
- Regular exercise: Engaging in routine physical activity can help improve circulation. Ensure any outdoor exercise during colder months (even walking the dog during the snowy season) is done while wearing hats, gloves and socks.
- Stress management: Since stress can trigger Raynaud’s episodes, techniques like deep breathing, meditation and yoga can be beneficial. Yoga in hot or warm settings may help because it promotes blood circulation.
Now let’s discuss the connection between thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders. This has been an area of interest for researchers for many years.
Studies have highlighted that people with Raynaud’s phenomenon often show symptoms of autoimmune conditions such as Sjögren’s disease. The prevalence of Raynaud’s is also higher in people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Treating the underlying condition will help relieve the Raynaud’s symptoms.
Raynaud’s disease is named after the French doctor Maurice Raynaud, who first described the color changes in the fingers back in 1862. This condition has been around for a long time, and I wish it had more effective solutions.
If you would like to read a more comprehensive version of this article, it’s posted on my website, suzycohen.com.
This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist.