Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Raynaud's disease (RAY-noz) is a condition that affects blood flow to the extremities which include the fingers, toes, nose and ears when exposed to temperature changes or stress. It was named after Maurice Raynaud (1834 - 1881), a French physician who first described it in 1862.
When exposed to cold temperatures, the oxygen supply to the fingertips, toes, and earlobes of Raynaud's disease patients are reduced and the skin color turn pale or white (called pallor). When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin color turns blue (called cyanosis). When warmed, blood returns to the area and the skin color turns red (rubor) and then back to normal.
All three color changes are present in Classic Raynaud's Disease. However, some patients do not see all of the color changes in all outbreaks of this condition.
Disease vs. Phenomenon
It is important to distinguish Raynaud's disease from Raynaud's phenomenon.
Raynaud's disease or Primary Raynaud's is diagnosed if the symptoms occur only by itself and is not accompanied by other diseases. It often develops in young women in their teens and young adulthood. This form of Raynaud's is hereditary.
Raynaud's phenomenon or Secondary Raynaud's occurs secondary to a large group of diseases, mainly connective tissue disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, arthritis and many others. In contrast to the disease form, this form of Raynaud's can progress to necrosis or gangrene of the fingertips.
Patients with Raynaud's disease are suggested to keep warm by wearing gloves and socks. They should also avoid touching cold objects, stress, medicines that can constrict blood vessels such as decongestants, and smoking.
Treatment for Raynaud's disease may include prescription medicines that enlarge blood vessels, such as calcium channel blockers (nifedipine). Mild cases of Raynaud's can be addressed by biofeedback or a technique to help control involuntary body functions such as skin temperature. In severe cases, a sympathectomy procedure can be performed. Here, the nerves that signals the blood vessels of the fingertips to constrict are surgically cut.
- Mayo Clinic - Raynaud's Disease
- Health In Plain English - Raynaud's Disease
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease - Raynaud's Phenomenon
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