Exactly what causes Raynaud’s remains unclear, but a hyperactivation of the sympathetic nervous system is known to cause an extreme narrowing of the blood vessels, known as vasoconstriction.
It can happen when the person enters a cold place, opens a freezer, or puts their hands in cold water.
Some people experience symptoms when faced with stress, even without an associated drop in temperature.
In healthy individuals, the circulatory system in the extremities, such as the fingers and toes, reacts to conserve heat in cold conditions. The small arteries that supply the skin with oxygen narrow to minimize the amount of heat lost through the exposed skin surface.
The physician will ask the patient questions about symptoms, diet, habits, and hobbies. The patient should be ready to explain when the symptoms first appeared, how often they have them, and what seems to cause them. It may help to keep a diary of this information.A blood test may be done to look for antinuclear antibodies or to measure erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which may indicate autoimmune problems or other inflammatory process.
Raynaud’s is not normally life-threatening, but complications can occur.Chilblains happen when there is a problem with the blood circulation, and Raynaud’s is one possible cause. The skin becomes itchy, red, and swollen and it may feel hot, burning, and tender. Chilblains usually resolve in 1 to 2 weeks, but they can come back. Keeping the extremities warm can help prevent them. If the hands and feet become cold, warm them slowly, as too much heat can cause further damage.
If symptoms worsen and blood supply is substantially reduced for a long time, fingers and toes can become deformed.
If oxygen is completely cut off from the area, skin ulcers and gangrenous tissue can develop. Both of these complications are difficult to treat. They may eventually require amputation.
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