Especially in winter, many people suffer from cold hands. However, the tendency to freeze and the sensation of cold vary greatly from person to person. But if the skin suddenly turns pale and blue, Raynaud's syndrome may be the cause.
THE RAYNAUD SYNDROME
If you are a person with a high sensitivity to cold, you quickly reach your limits in winter. The extreme effects of cold on the human body include numbness or shivering, and both are also quite normal. However, if the freezing becomes painful, and fingers, hands, or toes turn pale, there may be something different going on: Raynaud’s syndrome.
SUDDENLY PAINFUL COLD HANDS
With Raynaud’s syndrome, the vascular reaction shoots up beyond normal levels. In cold, wet, or even psychological stress and strain, the fingers, with the exception of the thumb, and hands, sometimes the toes, become cold and pale. They often hurt and turn blue. With primary Raynaud’s syndrome, both sides are affected; with secondary Raynaud’s syndrome, usually, only one hand reacts.
The vascular cramp can last up to half an hour. If the blood then flows back into the fingers, they often redden and hurt.
Primary Raynaud’s syndrome is usually harmless, but the exact cause is not yet known. In this case, the circulatory disorder is unpleasant, but not threatening. Secondary Raynaud’s syndrome, however, usually occurs as a result of other pre-existing conditions, such as autoimmune or vascular diseases or neurological diseases.
CONSISTENT PROTECTION AGAINST WET AND COLD
What helps to prevent painful vascular cramps? The answer is clear: consistent protection from the cold and wet. In order to avoid rapid chilling and finger injuries, it is essential to keep the hands warm with appropriate clothing. Therefore, heated ski gloves or heat pads offer the ideal protection for people suffering from Raynaud’s syndrome.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNE WANGLER
When and how were you diagnosed with Raynaud’s syndrome, Anne?
Anne: “For as long as I can remember, I have had this disease. However, I think it got worse with puberty. It was first diagnosed about 10 years ago. I’ve been examined by several specialists, toured all over Germany, so to say – Koblenz, Munich, Berlin. Unfortunately, there’s no real hope for a recovery.”
In which situations do you get extremely cold?
Anne: “I have increasing problems in temperature ranges between +15°C and -10°C. The moist cold makes it particularly hard for me. The core body temperature is also mostly normal; only my hands and feet are affected.”
What symptoms do you experience?
Anne: “Fingers and toes turn white and are no longer circulated. I don’t feel anything anymore – only the pain it causes. During bad attacks, it also affects my circulatory system in quite a minor way. I get short of breath, can’t concentrate, can’t think clearly, and the pain gets worse with the length of the attack.”
How much does Raynaud’s syndrome influence your everyday life?
Anne: “Well, I have probably chosen the most unfavorable hobbies imaginable…
It affects me a lot. Some things I can’t even do anymore. I always wanted to be a mountain guide. That train has left the station. I used to do quite a bit of ice climbing, which just doesn’t work anymore. It’s the same with climbing in the summer or in the fall because it’s already enough if the rock is a little cold. It just gets dangerous, and that’s where you have to weigh what risk you want to take.”
Has Raynaud’s syndrome affected your career as a free-rider?
Anne: “Immensely. Skiing is EVERYTHING to me, but I’m increasingly getting to the point where the suffering is just too much. The HOT.STX is ALWAYS with me, as well as heated socks. Without functional products like these, I would most likely not even be able to pursue my sport anymore – so they are worth every penny!”
What do you personally do to protect yourself from the cold? Do you have any tips?
Anne: “As I said, the heated mittens from Zanier are my constant companion. In addition, I use heated socks. And I use a heating cream for fingers and feet. I also make sure that I always have enough layers on me to keep warm. I also carry hot water or tea in my backpack. In case of a strong attack, only hot water or body heat helps in my case, i.e. I have to put my hands under my armpits. That then takes about 15 minutes, then my circulation is ready to work again and I can think clearly again.
The heated mittens from Zanier are my constant companion. In addition, I use heated socks. And I use a heating cream for fingers and feet.
Unfortunately, movement and circling the arms does not help me or takes too long, so that the body’s circulation fails even sooner. It is insanely important to keep warm and to act FAST in case of an attack. Means in clear words: No, I do not make another run, but look immediately that I stimulate the blood circulation again. Because the longer the attack lasts, the harder it is to get the circulation going again. At the moment I’m experimenting a bit with the Niacin drug, but I can’t say much about it at the moment.”
So with a few tips & tricks and modern clothing technology, it is possible to make everyday life more pleasant and easier despite Raynaud’s syndrome. Freerider Anne Wangler shows how it’s done, moves forward with a lot of optimism, and defeats the disease with her great passion for winter sports. #KeepGoing Anne!
This article was published in cooperation with our brand partner Zanier.