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(CBSDFW.COM) – On harsh winter days, many people suffer from cold hands and usually they simply put up with it. But for some people, cold hands can be a sign of a serious health problem.
Bone chilling wind and occasional snow has made it tough for some North Texans to stay warm. And it’s not easy keeping your hands cozy, especially when Tuesday morning was the coldest day of the week.
Having cold hands is part of your body’s natural response to regulate body temperature. But if you have persistent 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,” urged Dr. Nadara Sweiss, with the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Other ‘hand signs’ to look for include: color changes in your fingers, especially white or blue, numbness or tingling and pain.
Sarah Lindeman has Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP), a condition that affects the flow of blood to the fingers and causes cold hands.
“It started in one finger that turned purple, and it was colder to the touch than my other fingers,” explained Lindeman.
Believe it or not, treatment for cold hands can involve a combination of two surprising drugs, Viagra and Botox.
Viagra is normally used for erectile dysfunction, and Botox is a cosmetic injection, but both drugs can warm up hands.
“We give the patients those medications [and] we’re trying to increase the blood flow to their hands,” said Dr. Ginard Henry, with the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Diana Merz has had Raynaud’s for 30 years and says every year the symptoms get progressively worse. She says dealing with the problem is somewhat debilitating and causes her to stay indoors during the winter months.
“[There’s] 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,” Merz said.
Merz opted for Botox and within minutes of her first treatment her fingers had lost the shade of blue and were slowly returning 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.”
A few hours after the Botox treatment Merz said she actually was able to go outside and play catch with her dog with no pain at all. She said she’s already seeing and feeling a significant improvement.