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HealthWatch: Cold Hands

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Reynauld's Syndrome

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — This winter weather is creating a lot of cold hands, and that’s actually a good sign, because your body is sending warm blood to your organs. But if your hands are constantly cold, it could be an indicator of a serious problem, Dr. Max Gomez explains.

The bone-chilling cold and snow make it tough to stay warm this time of the year.  It’s not easy to keep our hands cozy and having cold hands is part of our body’s way to regulate body temperature, by shunting blood from the extremities to our vital core.

Persistently cold hands it could be a warning sign of many different problems from heart or thyroid disease to autoimmune problems. Cold hands can even be a side-effect of decongestants.

“If it takes more than 20 minutes to warm your hands then there is a problem,” said Dr. Nadara Sweiss of the University of Chicago.

There are other signs to watch for: color changes in your fingers, especially white or blue, numbness or tingling and even pain.

Diana Merz has something called Raynaud’s Syndrome, a common cause of cold hands, where blood flow to the fingers almost stops.

She says every year the symptoms get worse and she avoids going out in the winter.

“A lot of pain and burning and tingling, I’m right handed, the circulation in my right hand is worse. So it’s effected my ability to do small hand tasks,” said Mertz said.

Believe it or not, a new treatment for cold hands is a combination of viagra and botox. Viagra is used for erectile dysfunction and botox for wrinkles, but both warm up hands using a similar mechanism.

“We give the patients those medications we’re trying to overall increase the blood flow to their hands,” said Dr. Gerard Henry.

Within minutes of Diana’s first botox treatment, it was amazing to see her fingers lose the shade of blue and slowly return to pink.

“I’m surprised at the color coming back so quickly,” she said. “The tingling in my middle finger in my right hand which was always there is gone.”

Botox works by blocking the nerve signals that cause blood vessels in your hands to spasm, shutting down warm blood flow.

Before you do that, see a doctor to get an official diagnosis of Reynaud’s. Otherwise, just put on gloves with those little hand warmer packets in them.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 80-percent of people who have primary Raynaud’s Disease are women.

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