Living with Raynaud phenomenon

Living with Raynaud phenomenon

Without a cure, managing symptoms and vasospasm attacks requires long-term commitment and consideration. Treatment measures are ongoing, requiring a daily effort to alleviate or prevent symptoms.

Symptoms may improve with daily care, and very rarely worsen. Simple adjustments can make all the difference. The majority of those with primary Raynaud phenomenon respond well to lifestyle adjustments and considerations. Moderate to severe cases can also respond well to medication treatment options.

If a doctor has requested periodic follow-ups, it is advisable to keep these appointments, ensuring that any, and all symptom changes are appropriately checked, monitored or treated. Any worsening symptoms or the development of new ones should always be checked by a medical professional.

What to do in the event of a vasospasm attack

Warm up affected areas such as the hands and feet by doing the following:

  • Seek out a warmer environment: If outside, find a warm spot indoors or move away from cold fans and air conditioners.
  • Promote improved blood circulation: Wiggle the fingers and toes about, place hands under armpits or perform windmill exercises with the arms to encourage circulation to the fingers. Massaging the hands and feet can also help, as can running warm (not hot) water over affected areas.
  • Remove stress triggers: If a vasospasm attack is triggered by stress, where possible, find ways to step away from a situation or environment and relax.

Alternative symptom management for Raynaud's sufferers

Close-up of fish oil omega 3 gel capsules.Some supplements may help to enhance blood circulation in the body, which in turn can assist with alleviating the frequency or intensity of vasospasm attacks. More research studies are being done in this area, so it is advisable to consult a treating medical doctor for advice and the most up to date developments before taking any supplements (even if natural or herbal), especially if medications are already being used (so as to avoid adverse interactions and side-effects).

One such option to try are fish oil supplements. Some research has indicated that fish oil can help to improve tolerance to cold temperatures and also alleviate inflammation. Fish oil can act like a blood thinner, which can help to dilate blood vessels that are prone to narrowing.

Another substance which may be beneficial is ginkgo biloba. Studies have linked this tree species with potential medicinal properties as it has long been associated with traditional medicine use for circulatory and respiratory problems. Ginkgo can help to naturally increase blood flow by thinning out the blood and dilating capillaries (blood vessels). Some studies have indicated that regular use of ginkgo can significantly reduce the frequency of vasospasm attacks. Ginkgo supplements should never be taken in combination with other blood thinners as this can increase risk for internal bleeding.

Other alternative treatment options which have been, and continue to be studied as possible symptom relievers include thermal biofeedback and acupuncture. Once again, before trying any alternative healing practices, it is best to consult a medical doctor to assess possible benefits versus risks.

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