Have you ever heard of a woman having Buerger’s disease? Two doctors told me I have it. I don’t know what to believe.
You can believe the doctors. Sorry to tell you, but women do get Buerger’s disease, whose medical name is thromboangiitis obliterans. You’re right that this is a disease that primarily affects men, but a small percentage of those who get it are women.
Some 95 percent of those who get Buerger’s disease are men, most between the ages of 20 and 40. This is a rare disease which almost exclusively strikes smokers.
We don’t know what actually causes Buerger’s disease. Smoking seems to act more like a trigger than a cause. There’s speculation that it may be some form of autoimmune disorder or have a genetic component.
This condition is characterized by inflammation and clotting in veins and arteries of the arms and legs. The blood vessels become obstructed and blood flow to the limbs is reduced. The symptoms affect the arms and legs and may include pain, numbness, tingling, coldness, a white or blue appearance of the extremities, cramps in the arches of the feet and sores (ulcers) on the fingers and toes. Gangrene can develop, possibly leading to amputation. Buerger’s disease tends to get progressively worse over time, unless you quit smoking.
There’s no guarantee that quitting smoking will improve your situation, but it frequently does and it’s the most effective treatment we have. On the other hand, it’s a very safe bet that the symptoms won’t respond to other therapies and will get worse if you continue to smoke.
I know it’s not easy to quit smoking, but it’s essential to your health. If you’ve tried and failed before, ask your doctor for some advice and direction.