REDDING, Conn., Sept. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As fall gets underway, shorts and t-shirts are giving way to the season's latest fashions in outerwear, footwear and warmer clothing.
But for an estimated 5-10 percent of the U.S. population – 15 to 30 million people -- colder temperatures are a harbinger of pain. These people suffer from Raynaud's disease, a painful and sometimes debilitating disorder in which spasms in the blood vessels interrupt blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose and/or ears. Exposure to cold or emotional stress triggers the spasms, typically causing affected areas to turn white, then blue and red.
October is Raynaud's Awareness Month. According to the Raynaud's Association (http://www.raynauds.org), a whopping 80 percent of sufferers are not aware they have the disorder and do not seek treatment. There's no formal test to diagnose it and no FDA-approved drugs to specifically treat it.
"Awareness is key," says RA Founder and Chair Lynn Wunderman, "because many people risk long-term damage to their blood vessels if left untreated."
Both men and women suffer from Raynaud's disease (also known as Raynaud's "phenomenon" or "syndrome"), notes Wunderman, but women are nine times more likely to be affected. "Some researchers estimate as many as 20 percent of women in their childbearing years have it."
"Too many Raynaud's sufferers dismiss symptoms as 'poor circulation,'" Wunderman says. "In a sense that's true, but there's a medical cause for poor circulation—and sometimes it can be serious." Raynaud's may be the first sign of an underlying disease such as scleroderma or lupus ("secondary" Raynaud's), but most common is the "primary" form – not linked to another medical condition.
The Raynaud's Association advises individuals with symptoms to consult their physicians, who can perform simple blood tests to determine whether antibodies associated with other diseases are present.
There is no cure for Raynaud's as yet, although research is underway. In the meantime, most sufferers should try to avoid cold temperatures and protect extremities with gloves, hats and other such measures. "Moving south for the winter may provide some relief, but then there's air conditioning," says Wunderman.
About the Raynaud's Association:
Founded in 1992, the Raynaud's Association is a national 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing awareness and education. Its comprehensive guide, The Cold Facts on Raynaud's and Strategies for a Warmer Life, is available at http://www.raynaudsguide.org.
SOURCE Raynaud's Association