What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s is a condition that is thought to affect up to 10 million people across the UK. The disease targets the small blood vessels in the extremities – such as the fingers, toes, ears and nose, causing over-sensitivity to changes in temperature.
An attack can prove very uncomfortable, often causing a change in colour or loss of feeling in the affected part of the body. This can make day-to-day tasks difficult, frustrating and, in some cases, painful.
There are two forms of Raynaud’s: Primary and Secondary.
According to the charity Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK (SRUK), Primary Raynaud’s is usually mild and manageable, whilst Secondary Raynaud’s is the result of another condition and may require more careful monitoring.
Although the reason some people develop Raynaud’s whilst others don’t is unknown, it is clear that changes in temperature, stress and hormones as well as repetitive movements, such as typing or the use of a vibrating tool, can trigger an attack.
Although a diagnosis of Raynaud’s should not bring your travel plans to a halt, it is understandable that some people might be wary of visiting certain destinations or feel unsure as to what preparations they might need to undertake in order to enjoy a worry-free trip.
Preparing to travel with Raynaud's Disease
Step one when planning a trip with any kind of pre-existing medical condition is to consult your GP or specialist healthcare professional. Not only will you be able to discuss your plans in detail, they will be able to provide individually tailored advice to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible.
If you require medication for your trip, be sure to pack it in your hand luggage so it’s with you at all times and keep it in its original packaging with the prescription or a note from your doctor to avoid any complications at the airport.
Make sure you’ve got as much as you need to take with you. You never know when you might run out or potentially even misplace your medication – so it’s important to ensure you’ve got plenty packed in your case.
It’s also important to make a careful consideration of your destination before you leave. What sort of climate are you expecting when you arrive?
Will you need to bring extra warm clothes? Thermal socks or gloves?
Prevention is always better than cure. If you’ve planned your trip in detail you’re much more likely to avoid the effects of Raynaud’s getting the better of you.
Flying with Raynaud’s
As far as flying with Raynaud’s is concerned, there a few things to bear in mind.
First of all, if you suffer with Raynaud’s, then you shouldn’t be put off flying. There are ways in which you can combat the effects of the condition during the flight – whether that’s wearing socks and gloves or even standing up and moving around to keep warm and improve circulation.
It might be a good idea to try and arrange a seat with extra legroom so you can stand up and move around with relative ease. Airlines will often be more than willing to help where needed.
Flying with Raynaud’s socks & gloves
Flight socks and gloves are often commonly used when flying to cope with the effects of Raynaud’s.
Many passengers with Raynaud’s simply fly with warm socks and blankets to combat the often chilly air-conditioning on planes and exercise their feet throughout the trip by walking around or flexing while seated.
It’s likely that you won’t particularly need to put on any socks or any other additional layers of clothing during the flight if you already feel comfortable. However, if you know you’re on an especially long flight then it’s probably wise to bring some aboard just in case.
Your GP might even recommend support stockings to help prevent DVT when flying, but this might not be suitable for everyone.
Some people with Raynaud’s find that carrying heat pads help to keep their hands warm – some products can be ‘snapped’ in the pocket when needed so that they heat up on request. Once the heat has faded, they can be reset at home. Carrying a pair of thin gloves with you can also help if you suddenly find yourself in a cold blast of air-conditioning
Are there any restrictions when travelling with Raynaud's?
You shouldn’t be put off travelling if you suffer with Raynaud’s. However, while there are no restrictions – planning ahead is key to ensuring you have an enjoyable holiday.
As long as you’re fully aware of everything you need to do to limit those personal triggers that cause attacks, then travelling with Raynaud’s shouldn’t be an issue.
The only time where you might feel restricted is due to poor preparation. For example, if you don’t have a letter from your doctor to justify your medication – there is always the small chance that airport security staff may confiscate it before you board the plane.
Choosing the right destination when travelling with Raynaud's
As Raynaud’s attacks have been linked to a change in temperature, particularly the cold, it’s important to think carefully about the climate in your destination of choice and the effect it could have on your condition.
In many cases, symptoms can be controlled by avoiding extremes in temperature or ensuring adequate protection from the cold in the form of thermal clothing to keep the extremities warm. Layers are also important if visiting a colder country – keeping your core warm will ultimately help to heat up the rest of your body.
Some people might find that damp conditions or overly warm conditions also trigger an attack. Be sure to get the appropriate advice from your GP on your situation so you can be as prepared as possible whilst away from home.
Keeping your general health and fitness up whilst travelling can also make a difference in how your body reacts. Eat healthy, non-processed foods where possible, limit alcohol, drink lots of water and ensure you exercise regularly to help keep your blood flowing.
Raynaud’s travel insurance
Whether travelling with a pre-existing medical condition or not, it’s important to purchase the right travel insurance for your trip.
Even if you’re travelling to a hot climate – it’s hard to predict when the symptoms of Raynaud’s might be triggered. Having the right travel insurance policy will keep you adequately covered for the durations of your trip, giving you peace of mind.
Although it can be more challenging to find an insurer who will cover certain conditions, it’s certainly not impossible. Medical Travel Compared can help you find suitable insurers for your needs.
With our online comparison tool, you can declare Raynaud’s disease as a condition. This enables us to help you find insurers that can provide specialist cover for pre-existing conditions like Raynaud’s – so why not start the process and get a free online quote with us today?