Frozen Hands (Cold Hands)Home
The constant feeling of cold in the hands even when not in cold temperatures could be a sign of a serious disease. Cold hands are usually an indication of poor blood circulation in the fingers and hands. It might also be a warning of a complication in the nerves of the hands. People with hypothyroidism may also experience cold hands and feet.
- Unnatural coldness
- Discoloration (blue, white and red)
- Numbness, tingling, and loss of sensitivity
- Ulcers and swelling
- Raynaud’s syndrome/disease
- Blood clotting
- Buerger’s disease
- Peripheral artery disease
The continuous feeling of cold hands may indicate Raynaud’s syndrome also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon or Raynaud’s disease. Raynaud’s syndrome is a disease that targets the arteries. The arteries are the carriers of blood from the heart to the different parts of the body. The disease narrows the arteries for a brief period and curtails the blood supply to the fingers and hands. This is also known as a vaso spasm. Raynaud’s disease mostly targets fingers and toes and sometimes, may also affect the nose and ears. The duration of a Raynaud’s attack can last for a minute to hours.
Symptoms due to Raynaud’s disease include:
- Numbness, tingling, throbbing, and burning
- Discoloration (pale or white and blue)
There are two types of Raynaud’s disease:
- Primary: Primary Raynaud’s causes no damage or disability. The cause of primary Raynaud’s is not known.
- Secondary: Some people suffer from secondary Raynaud’s, which is difficult to treat and may cause serious damage. Hence, it is important to treat the condition early. Secondary Raynaud’s is associated to diseases caused by auto-immune or connective tissue disorders. It is less common and is usually seen in people over the age of 40. Some of the diseases that cause secondary Raynaud’s are lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, Buerger’s disease, and thyroid disorders. Smoking and injuries can also lead to Raynaud’s disease.
There are some self-care tips and home remedies that can alleviate cold hands. Listed below are a few popular options.
Exercise: Exercise improves blood circulation in the body and regulates the body temperature. Some exercises like a brisk walk, arm circles, and shoulder rotations improve blood flow in hands and fingers and keeps them warm. Regular exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of the disease and improve the quality of life.
De-stress: Stress is a known trigger for Raynaud’s syndrome. Breathing and relaxation exercises help bring down stress levels and calm the nervous system. You can opt for yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes or choose a relaxing routine suited to you.
Diet: A well-balanced and nutrition-rich diet can help improve blood flow and relieve cold hands. A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids assists in proper blood circulation in the body. Some of the foods that have high omega 3 fatty acids content are salmon, mackerel, and flax seeds. Inclusion of iron rich foods in the diet is important for anemic people with cold hands. Some dietary supplements are also helpful in cold hands disease. In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, it was found that fish oil supplements were beneficial in interruption of vaso spasm in patients with primary Raynaud’s.
Smoking: Quit smoking. Smoking decreases the blood flow and damages blood vessels. Smoking is also one of the causes of Buerger’s disease and other circulatory disorders.
Alcohol: Alcohol thins the blood, which, in turn, hinders blood circulation and dehydrates the body. It is important to drink water regularly and hydrate the body to offset the negative effects of alcohol.
Clothing: People suffering from cold hands disease should avoid tight wrist bands and clothing that can impede the surface blood flow.
Thyroid Check: Cold hands and feet are often the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It is imperative to run tests to check on the disease. The disease is easily treatable and effective treatment can combat the symptoms for good.
In most cases, doctors recommend medicines that decrease the risk of blocked or narrowed blood vessels. Antidepressants and calcium channel blockers are advised to relax the blood vessels and to improve blood flow.
Sometimes the doctor may advise against certain medications. These may include:
- Birth control pills
- Over-the-counter cold medication
- Beta blockers
In case of grave Raynaud’s syndrome, some other medical alternatives are advised. These are
- Chemical injections
- Therapy and rehabilitation
While benefits of home remedies are time tested and proven, persistence of any symptom can be a sign of a larger ailment. It is very important to consult the doctor early so that the disease is treated in timely manner.