COLD HANDS AND FEET

(and Raynaud’s Syndrome)

Cold hands and feet can be very uncomfortable, especially in winter, but some people suffer this problem constantly. It is caused by an abnormal spasm of blood vessels.

Cold hands can be as simple as being in a cold environment or your body's natural response to maintain its normal temperature (core temperature), that is to keep your organs such as the brain and heart at the correct temperature the blood flow to the extremities is reduce to help prevent core body cooling. The result is cold hands and feet and shivering to try and warm the body.

 If you have ongoing problems with cold hands even if the weather is not that cold, there could be a number of other causes. Having cold hands could signal a problem with your blood circulation or the blood vessels in your hands.

 

Causes of cold hands include:

 

Anemia

Buerger's disease

Diabetes

Frostbite

Lupus

Raynaud's disease

Scleroderma

Raynaud’s Disease or blood vessels in the hands and feet overacting to cold temperatures or stressful situations are a major cause of freezing hands and feet. Raynaud’s disease triggers arteries in fingers and toes to enter vasospasm or a condition that narrows your blood vessels and limits blood supplies to the extremities. Over time these arteries thicken which further limits blood flow. One symptom is a pale and or dusky colour to your fingers and toes. 

This poor circulation in the extremities can also be caused from smoking. It is a documented fact that smoking causes peripheral vaso-constriction, which lessens the blood flow to the extremities. If you are smoking, then you should stop.

Anaemia can cause pale skin fatigue, weakness and cold hands and feet. Iron deficiency anaemia often goes undiagnosed until you experience Raynaud’s disease.  If your hands and feet stay cold despite warming measures, check your iron levels. 

Diabetes can be another contributing factor to your cold hands and feet due to circulatory problems that this condition can cause.

Some medications may cause symptoms.

Some pressure medications such as beta blockers, migraine medications that contain ergotamine and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications and over-the-counter cold medications containing pseudoephedrine have been linked to Raynaud's.

The vitamins and herbs may help.

Fish oil and vitamin E help improve circulation. Start with 100 IU of vitamin E daily and slowly increase over six weeks to 500 IU daily and 2000mg of fish oil. Herbs including hawthorn berry, ginkgo and ginger can be very beneficial. These herbs help dilation of the blood vessels, especially in the extremities, and this vasodilatation improves circulation and helps warm the hands and feet.

If you like the hot foods, then chilli peppers (cayenne) included with your food can also help warm you up. Chillies can be in a tablet or capsule.

See your doctor right away if you have a history of severe Raynaud's and develop a sore or infection in one of your affected fingers or toes

SUPPLEMENTS

Vitamin E                                                             up to 500 IU daily

Ginkgoforte (Blackmores)                                1 tablet morning and night

Hawthorn                                                            500 mg

Fish oil 1000                                                       2 daily

Cayenne pepper                                                 add to food as per taste

Vitamin B3

(nicotinic acid)                                                     up to 100 mg per day

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