Should you be concerned about Raynaud's syndrome if you often get cold hands?
Raynaud's symptoms can fall within a spectrum in terms of the severity of the disease. There are people who are cold-sensitive, and their hands might turn a little white or feel a little bit cold in the cold weather; that's actually a normal physiologic response. But when people have Raynaud's, it's a more striking change, where they can actually see the color changes.
Why do people with Raynaud's get cold hands and feet?
Raynaud's is based on a normal physiologic response. If somebody is exposed to cold, the normal physiologic response is for your body to maintain core body temperature and prevent heat loss through the extremities. So, the body would clamp down on the peripheral vessels to have the blood go to the vital organs to maintain warmth.
But in people with Raynaud's, this normal response is exaggerated. For example, frostbite wouldn't be considered Raynaud's, but it's caused by the same response. In people who have Raynaud's, something like frostbite might happen much more readily or be more pronounced when it happens.
What causes Raynaud's phenomena?
There are families that are predisposed to having Raynaud's phenomena, but the symptoms of Raynaud's are usually indicative of some other disease. There are some autoimmune or connective tissue diseases that cause a higher rate and more severe form of Raynaud's.