ZocdocAnswersWhy do my chest, neck and hands flush?

Question

Why do my chest, neck and hands flush?

Sometimes when I eat, or when I am walking around and getting hot, or honestly sometimes just sitting doing nothing, the fingers on one or both of my hands will get hot and red and a bit swollen. It usually only lasts a few minutes, but it's very strange and sometimes embarrassing. At other times, I will look down and one hand is red, and the other is deathly white (looks like Reynauds sort of, but I don't have to be cold for it to happen). If I rub my fingers when they are white they look normal again quickly, but it takes a little while for the red hot hands to subside. I also get "splotches" on my neck and chest when eating, drinking alcohol or talking to people I am not 100% comfortable with. Sometimes I am hot when it happens but usually not. My cheeks do not often flush, however. I have searched this of course and am concerned about carcinoid syndrome, though I do not have the #2 symptom of diarrhea. Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Answer

Thanks for your question. Certainly the thought of carcinoid syndrome is something that crosses the mind in hearing about your symptoms. That is, however, a rather rare process that would be unusual for most people to have. In such a situation, it is good to describe your symptoms and your concerns to your doctor so that he or she can test for the possibility of something as serious or as rare as that condition. There are many other possible explanations, however, many of which are much more common. It is not unusual for some people to have changes of flushing and some of the other feelings that you describe when they are in stressful or unusual situations. Some of this can sometimes be understood in context of the response that some people have to loud noises or fright, ie, they can faint. This reaction is one extreme on the spectrum of a vagal reaction that can occur in some. On a less extreme note, other can have some of the same symptoms you describe without having something as notable as a syncopal episode. There are often things that can be done to help. Please speak with your doctor about this.

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