CHARITY WARNS PUBLIC ACROSS YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER TO WATCH OUT FOR SIGNS OF RAYNAUD'S THIS WINTERThu 15th December 2022
With Christmas right around the corner and freezing cold temperatures across Yorkshire and Humberside, the charity Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK (SRUK) is urging people to look out for signs of Raynaud’s - a painful condition that affects blood circulation and is triggered by the cold.
SRUK says many in the UK are “woefully unaware” of Raynaud’s, despite around one in six people living with the condition. According to the charity, more than one in two UK adults don’t know any of the signs and symptoms with millions likely to dismiss symptoms rather than visit their GP .
The charity is also concerned that high energy prices are preventing many from properly heating their homes, meaning those in Yorkshire and the Humber who are living with Raynaud’s are likely to spend Christmas suffering in silence.
According to SRUK, keeping warm is ‘crucial’ for living well with the condition, but a recent survey by the charity found that more than four in five people with Raynaud’s from Yorkshire and the Humber (86 percent) reported being worried about the cost of their energy, with many choosing to limit their heating or keep it off altogether .
Recognising the signs of Raynaud’s
For someone with Raynaud’s, cold temperatures and stress can cause painful flare-ups, also called Raynaud’s attacks. This is when the blood temporarily stops flowing to parts of the body, most commonly the hands and feet.
When this happens, the skin can change colour to white, then blue and finally to red as the blood starts to return. The condition can also be extremely painful, preventing many from carrying out everyday tasks like handling bank cards and house keys, unbuttoning a coat and even driving.
Sue Farrington, Chief Executive of SRUK, said: “Winter is well and truly upon us and we know that people with Raynaud’s can find this time of year extremely difficult. We all get cold hands and feet when the temperature drops, but for those affected by Raynaud’s the impact can be seriously debilitating, so it’s important not dismiss it and seek advice and support.”
Signs of Raynaud’s include:
- Colour changes to the skin in areas such as the hands or feet, often in response to cold conditions
- Cold and numbness in the affected areas, such as the fingers and toes
- Tingling or pain, especially as the circulation returns to the affected areas.
For around 300,000 people with Raynaud’s, the condition can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as the autoimmune diseases lupus and scleroderma, which is why SRUK is urging people in Yorkshire and the Humber to visit their GP if they think they may have Raynaud’s.
The charity has an online test people can take to check if they may have the condition. This is available at www.sruk.co.uk/testme
A warning to stay warm this winter
SRUK is also warning that many people with Raynaud’s could be jeopardising their health by cutting back on their heating this year. From a survey of more than 1,600 people with Raynaud’s, the charity found that in Yorkshire and the Humber region specifically:
- Almost nine in 10 respondents (89 percent) said they rely on their heating to prevent painful Raynaud’s attacks
- More than four in five people surveyed (85 percent) said they had experienced a Raynaud’s attack as a result of choosing not to put their heating on. Of these, almost half (47 percent) believe it could happen again
- Around one in three respondents (32 percent) are trying to find other ways to stay warm, such as wearing thick jumpers and gloves
- One in 10 people surveyed (10 percent) said they were buying less food in order to afford their energy bills.
Farrington said: “We know that high inflation and the cost of living are making things difficult for lots of people right now but keeping warm is the key to living well with Raynaud’s.
“We understand that not everyone will be able to afford to keep their homes heated at a consistent temperature, so you can also stay warm by wearing lots of thin layers, thermal socks and gloves, and using heated slippers and blankets. We would hate for anyone to suffer in silence this winter.”
The charity has written to the government, calling for more support to keep heating affordable for people with Raynaud’s this winter and beyond. Read the full letter at www.sruk.co.uk/about-us/news/raynauds-energy-campaign
SRUK also has a factsheet available, which is packed with tips to help people keep warm this winter. This is available from the SRUK website at www.sruk.co.uk
Photo Credit photographer - Les Fry.