Individuals are being urged to be aware of a little-known condition brought on by the cold, with more freezing temperatures likely this winter.
The charity Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK (SRUK) is urging people to look out for signs of Raynaud’s – a painful condition that affects blood circulation and is triggered by the cold.
SRUK says many in the UK are unaware of Raynaud’s, despite about one in six people living with the condition.
The charity says more than one in two UK adults don’t know any of the signs and symptoms with millions likely to dismiss symptoms rather than visit their GP.
The charity is also concerned that high energy prices are preventing many people from properly heating their homes, meaning those living with Raynaud’s are likely to spend the winter suffering in silence.
What are the symptoms?
For someone with Raynaud’s, cold temperatures and stress can cause painful flare-ups, also called Raynaud’s attacks.
This is when the blood temporarily stops flowing to parts of the body, most commonly the hands and feet.
Signs of Raynaud’s include:
– Colour changes to the skin in areas such as the hands or feet, often in response to cold conditions
– Cold and numbness in the affected areas, such as the fingers and toes
– Tingling or pain, especially as the circulation returns to the affected areas.
The condition can also be extremely painful, preventing many people from carrying out everyday tasks like handling house keys, unbuttoning a coat and even driving.
SRUK chief executive Sue Farrington said: “Winter is well and truly upon us and we know that people with Raynaud’s can find this time of year extremely difficult.
“We all get cold hands and feet when the temperature drops, but for those affected by Raynaud’s the impact can be seriously debilitating, so it’s important not dismiss it and seek advice and support.”
For about 300,000 people with Raynaud’s, the condition can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as the autoimmune diseases lupus and scleroderma, which is why SRUK is urging people in the South-West to visit their GP if they think they may have Raynaud’s.
The charity also has an online test people can take to check if they may have the condition. This is available at www.sruk.co.uk/testme