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Raynaud's syndrome is a condition caused by an abnormal sensitivity of the arteries to cold. Sufferers experience an interruption to the blood flow supplying the extreme parts of the body such as the fingers and toes. Normally when we go out in the cold, the blood vessels attempt to conserve heat by shutting down a little, but in people who have Raynaud's syndrome, the shutdown can be total. When this happens, the affected areas appear white and pinched and as the tissues use up oxygen they can even begin to turn blue. After a while fresh blood rushes in and they turn bright red and may become tingly and painful. Cold weather is the main trigger of the syndrome but it could also be caused by stress and repetitive actions such as playing the piano or using a chainsaw. Raynaud's syndrome is most common in adolescence and sufferers often grow out of it. However, when symptoms are severe or are developed after the age of 25, a GP should be consulted.

There is no cure for the syndrome so far, but there are some things which help. If a sufferer smokes, he/she should kick the habit as smoking causes blood vessels to contract. The body should be kept warm by eating little and often and two hot meals should be eaten each day. Sipping hot drinks regularly is also good. Warm clothes should be worn and mittens are a better choice than gloves as they keep the hands warmer. Exercise improves circulation as do the leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree. Some sufferers report that primrose oil and vitamin E were of help to them. Medical treatment consists mainly of vasodilator drugs which open up the blood vessels and thin the blood; these are also available as creams. If an attack comes on and you have nothing at hand, just immerse your hands alternately in bowls of warm water and cold water to reactivate blood vessels.