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BPB ALERT NEWS – RAYNAUD’S AWARENESS MONTH 1-29th FEBRUARY…

February is Raynaud’s Awareness Month – help others to get to know about Raynaud’s condition by posting on media sites with #KnowRaynauds.

Raynaud’s disease (Ray-nodes) means that the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes emotional stress.

When our bodies are exposed to the cold, a normal response is for the blood vessels to become narrower. When someone has Raynaud’s this reaction may be much more extreme. It will sometimes cause a noticeable colour change to the affected areas, with the skin turning white, then blue and finally to red as the circulation returns. This is known as a Raynaud’s attack.

A Raynaud’s attack can be very uncomfortable, and sometimes quite painful. It can also make everyday tasks, like buttoning a jacket or unzipping a purse, very difficult. Raynaud’s symptoms generally affect the fingers and toes, but all extremities can be involved, including the hands, feet, ears, nose, lips, tongue and nipples. Raynaud’s is a common condition thought to affect up to ten million people in the UK.

There are two different types of Raynaud’s: primary and secondary. Primary Raynaud’s is usually less serious as the condition tends to be fairly manageable. People living with secondary Raynaud’s will often experience more severe symptoms.

People with primary Raynaud’s usually have no other related complications, and will rarely go on to develop an additional problem.

If you have primary Raynaud’s, it is important to see your GP if you are worried about the symptoms or any other health issues.

Secondary Raynaud’s needs more investigation and more careful monitoring for complications like ulceration or sores.

If you notice a change in your symptoms or you have any other health concerns, it is important to tell your doctor, who may carry out some tests to rule out other conditions.

To find out much more about the condition and how to get help head over to Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK). It is the only UK Charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Their aim is to reach out to every single person who has a Scleroderma or Raynaud’s diagnosis and provide them with the information and support they need.

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9 WAYS TO LIFT YOUR STRESS DURING LOCKDOWN…

At the moment it is understandable that many of us (including me) are incredibly stressed right now. But one of the most powerful tools according to Paul McKenna in Woman & Home is making a daily list of things that we appreciate. So, I will kick of with number …

1. Get a notebook or open a file on your computer, and each day, add at least five things to the list. Then any time you are feeling really stressed read back through what you have written. I’ve ordered a notebook today and plan on trying this straight away.

2. Try and work it out, if you can’t manage an indoor workout then go out for a walk in the fresh air, or do some housework to take your mind off it.

3. Try breathing exercises, whereby you breath out for longer than you breathe in. There are a number of ones you can follow online. The theory is that when you breathe out you signal your nervous system to instruct your body to calm down.

4. During the COVID-19 lockdown it’s been easy to eat all the wrong things especially for anyone who is self isolating but this can have a negative effect on your health, so try eating more healthily. Last week I started a diary of the meals I had cooked during the week so I can look at what we had last week and go for something different this week.

5. Listen to some calming music. Just try and switch off completely by sitting or lying somewhere very peaceful and listen to some lovely soothing music.

6. Apparently we have been watching lots of nature programs during the last few months as they have found these have a very calming effect on children. So, do the same as the younger ones and get yourself in a comfy chair, relax and watch a nature program.

7. Make sure you are drinking enough water every day. Being dehydrated can cause a multiple of different problems. You should try and drink around 2.7 litres for women, and 3.7 litres for men.

8. Read a book, there are so many free and very cheap books to read online now or paperbacks you can buy for a reasonable price. I’ve become hooked on my books and find they help me go to sleep at night. If your having a really bad day there is no harm in binge reading, like binge watching a tv program. If it’s a good book just get yourself comfortable and read it from start to finish.

9. Finally, just laugh and I mean really laugh. It helps to relieve stress big time. If you can’t think of anything to make you laugh you can go online and find funny videos, in particular the animal ones which will definitely have you in stitches.

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CHANGE OF SEASON PAIN FOR FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS…

Fibromyalgia flare-ups are quite common for Fibromyalgia sufferers but what is the biggest cause of them?

Well, apparently its The Weather – hip hip hooray now I know I’m not imagining it! Fibromyalgia flare-ups are a temporary increase in the number and/or intensity of symptoms.  Extreme fatigue, aching joints, tender muscles and general weariness can interrupt your day and leave you worrying about your deteriorating condition. Luckily, worsening symptoms usually have a distinct cause, and with the right approach, they can be treated directly and effectively. Get to the bottom of intensifying fibro fatigue and discomfort before you try to treat it. Some flare-ups can last a few days to a few weeks and there are a number of causes for them. For me, the change in weather has always had the biggest impact on my Fibro and not just when it turns colder.

Temperature makes a difference in how we feel with Fibro but it can also affect other musculoskeletal disorders. Changes in the barometer can also trigger symptoms. Also if rain or snow is forecast this can trigger some symptoms to flare-up. They say a consistently warm, dry climate is probably best for Fibro sufferers. According to Fibromyalgia-symptoms.org, there are five “major weather factors” that can affect our bodies. They are temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind. We may not be able to control what the weather does, but we can take some steps to try and head off a #fibro flare before it occurs when it is time for a seasonal change. Brian Barr solicitors say that so far, researchers have been unable to determine why the changes in weather affect sufferers, however, there are some possible explanations. Firstly, changes in temperature can affect sleep patterns. Getting plenty of sleep is really important if you have #fibromyalgia, and even small shifts in your sleep pattern can aggravate the condition. Secondly, as the seasons change, the amount of light also varies. The light mornings make wake you up earlier so invest in a blackout blind. Thirdly, a simple one but it can make a big difference is the quilt on your bed. Change for a much lighter weight for the summer season. This may sound strange but even the weight of a heavy quilt in the summer will stop me sleeping well.

Very Well Health wrote that “although they don’t have a ton of research on the impact of weather on #fibromyalgia symptoms, but they do have a handful of studies. Also, we can look to research on weather’s effect on other pain conditions, such as arthritis and migraine, which have been studied for a lot longer.”

“A large internet survey of nearly 2,600 people with #fibromyalgia helps shed some light on this relationship. This was a general survey, not one specifically looking for weather-related information. When asked what things appeared to make their symptoms worse, a whopping 80 percent of respondents said “weather changes.”Not only is that a large number, but it also was the second-most reported worsening factor, coming in only after “emotional distress” (83 percent), and above “sleeping problems” (79 percent), “strenuous activity” (70 percent), and “mental stress” (68 percent).”

New Life Outlook Fibromyalgia points out that it is not uncommon to hear someone with arthritis claiming their knee or hip can predict the weather better than a meteorologist. They always know in advance when a cold front or a rainstorm are moving in, with almost scary accuracy. Many with one type of rheumatic condition or another, including #fibromyalgia, have made claims that the changes of weather will affect their pain levels, fatigue levels, or other various symptoms. There is lots of help and advice online about Fibro Flare-Ups from Fibromyalgia New Life Outlook and UK Fibromyalgia. Other factors that cause Fibromyalgia flare-ups include –

  1. Stress
  2. Sleep (or lack of)
  3. Overexertion
  4. Exercise or over-exertion
  5. Illness
  6. Diet – processed foods in particular
  7. Hormonal change
  8. Travel
  9. Medication changes

One thing I found helped me with a flare-up was by writing it in my diary when it happened and what I did to help with it and if it helped. I also have a list of all the things I enjoy that take me away from my pain like one of my hobbies (making cards) and baking but maybe for you something like Tai Chi may help. Just knowing something that works will help get through the flare-up. Make a note in your diary of a particular treatment that helped or a medication or piece of equipment like a tens machine that helped. Knowing that there is something you can do, use or otherwise for your flare-up, will get you through the worst days and back to controlling it as you normally do.