Why are my Hands Blue?

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            Today, the weather was a bit colder than it usually is. I put on my regular fall attire; leggings, a sweater, a scarf, and my jacket. It was raining, so I had my umbrella in hand. I was just about to walk into the Forum building when I looked down at my hand wrapped around the handle of the umbrella. It was blue. Not bright blue like the color we know from a child's crayon, but a discoloration of my skin. I've had this problem before, but that was in the dead of winter during a snowstorm. It's only early fall. So, I called my mom with my questions. She told me not to worry because she and my grandmother have Raynaud's disease too... wait what?! Mom, I told you that my hands were turning blue, not that I have a disease.

            Between the dramatics, she told me it really wasn't anything serious and to just look it up... so I did.

            Patient.co.uk describes Raynaud's disease as a condition that happens when the blood vessels in fingers and toes become constricted. This can occur under emotional stress, but is more common in the cold weather. This transpires because the oxygen from the blood in the constricted vessels is getting used up too quickly. This lack of oxygen causes the discoloration and numbness in hands and feet.

            What causes someone to have Raynaud's disease? Medical News Today describes some of the risk factors


"Gender. The phenomenon is more common in women than men; the Framingham Study found that 5% of men and 8% of women suffer from it.

Age. Although any age group can be affected, middle-aged and elderly individuals have a higher risk, compared to young people.

Geography. A significantly higher percentage of adults in, for example, Alaska suffer from the phenomenon compared to individuals in Florida.

Genes. A significant number of individuals with Raynaud's disease have a parent or sibling who also has it."

            From this, I can see why I am at risk of having Raynaud's Disease compared to others. I am female, so that covers gender. I do live in the northeastern part of America opposed to Florida, and that covers geography. Both my grandmother and my mother suffer it as well, therefore it must be in my genes. I'm not middle-aged, nor elderly, however, the age risk factor that Raynaud's Disease can appear later in life could explain why I haven't seen signs of this during my first twenty years of living.

            This makes me wonder; would I have had this problem if I lived in the South where it was warmer? I could have had Raynaud's Disease and never know that I had it if I lived in the South. Could living in the cold weather cause me to have Raynaud's Disease? Maybe, I should test this out and live in Florida for a few months with my brother... hmmm

            I read through a question-answer on GardenWeb and saw an interesting post. A woman wrote that Raynaud's isn't something you treat; it's something you try to prevent. We wear gloves to warm up are hands and thick socks to warm up our feet. Raynaud's doesn't just go away one day. If you aren't showing signs of it, it's because you're preventing it from acting up. So moving to a warmer climate would help prevent my Raynaud's Disease from acting up, however that would mean that I would need to leave Penn State, which I'm not doing. I guess the best way to fight this is to do everything I can to keep warm. Wish me luck.


1 Comment

This is such an interesting article! In high school, on of my best guy friends had Raynaud's and I always thought he was making it up because he was embarrassed that his fingers would turn blue. Because I was so skeptical, I decided to do some research of my own. This article, What Is Raynaud's?, discusses everything you need to know about the condition. Something that sparked an interest for me was that about 5% of the population has Raynaud's. Although, for most people the condition is more of a bother than a serious illness. There really isn't much a person with Raynaud's can do besides adjust how often they are outside in temperatures below 60 degrees.

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