DURING the winter, most of us experience tingling fingers and toes and numbness as a result of the drop in temperature. For some people however, exposure to the cold brings on severe symptoms, such as loss of feeling in the fingers and numbness that seems to take forever to resolve. Their fingers may turn very pale or even blue and then turn red, and tingle profusely as circulation returns. If this sounds familiar to you, you could be one of the increasing number of people suffering with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a condition in which the small arteries of the fingers go into spasm and contract.
Although the symptoms of Raynaud’s Syndrome can be rather painful, few people seek medical advice – assuming that there is nothing that can be done to relieve the discomfort. Those who do seek the advice of their GP may be prescribed calcium channel blockers, which work by dilating the blood vessels. These drugs are however, not without their side effects and are not always effective.
Many sufferers learn to manage their symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. Here are some top tips for coping with the symptoms of Raynaud’s Syndrome:
- Consider getting your iron levels checked by your GP. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia,which enhances your sensitivity to the cold. Get plenty of iron from lean meats, fish, poultry, lentils and green leafy vegetables.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking encourages the build up of plaque in your arteries, which impairs circulation.
- Avoid tea and coffee as they constrict blood vessels.
- Regularly eat hot meals and drink hot beverages, such as soup and herbal teas.
- Wear many layers of clothes, rather than just one thick layer. Layers keep the warmth in much more effectively
- Eat hot, spicy foods such as ginger and chilli – they are warming and also enhance circulation.
- Try wearing mittens, which are more effective at trapping heat than gloves.
- Try supplements that help maintain a healthy circulation, such as ginkgo biloba, ginger, vitamin Eand fish oils.
- If you are taking anticoagulant medication already, do not use any of these supplements without first consulting your GP.