Monday, January 10, 2011

MS Education Monday - Does Weather Affect MS Symptoms?

With the recent change in temperature in Arkansas this weekend, I decided to dedicate this MS Education Monday to the weather's effect on MS symptoms.  And, I am happy to report that most of the information recieved was positive.... as long as you are in a cold climate!! So, here is a article I found on the Real Living With Multiple Sclerosis website.  I think it sums up the "weather effect" on MS! Happy Reading.... Oh, and of course I had to add a little picture of one of my little snowbunnies to the bottom of this post. Kennedy sure is enjoying her snow day!

Weather or Not!

Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis, Sep 2004 by Zielinski, Karen 

Persons with MS can experience heat and weather sensitivity.

Give me a cool, dry day any time! My MS rears its ugly head a lot more when the heat and humidity go up. I'm especially sensitive to humidity, and, when the day is hot, the humidity often is high (my understanding of basic science tells me that warm air can hold more moisture).
People often say that their arthritis acts up when the weather gets cold or unusually humid, and I wondered if there was a correlation between the weather and MS. When I talk with the nurse at my neurologist's office during extremely hot weather and ask her how her day is going, she says, "Well, we've had an unusually busy day because of this weather. People feel a little worse than usual during this type of weather."
What happens to me is this: My hands get numb, and I'm a little more klutzy on those days. I don't feel up to doing my physical therapy routine because my legs don't have the same energy or stamina as when it's not so humid. Woven into all of this is that when it's humid, I don't sleep well at night; when I don't rest well, I don't perform as well physically.

Weather's affect on people with MS
There's truth to the notion that weather affects our bodies. According to The MS Information Sourcebook (published by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society;, "many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather is hot or humid or when they run a fever, sunbathe, get overheated from exercise, or take hot showers or baths. Some people notice that their vision becomes blurred when they get overheated-a phenomenon known as Uhthoff s sign. These temporary changes can result from even a slight elevation in core body temperature (one-quarter to one-half of a degree) because an elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses."
At home, keep the temperature cool in order to rest well and to best perform activities of daily living. And learn your body's patterns; it's an important matter of personal safety. If you already have considerable weakness in your body, you don't want to compound your risks by adding lethargy to the situation. If you're barely able to walk a few feet and the weather turns hot and humid, you need to be aware in advance that the weather can make you less mobile.

Advice to people with MS

Although the amount of activity a person with MS can handle during humid weather is quite individual (depending on the severity of their dis ease and the extent of how the weather affects them), the major point is to control your environment. If, for example, I have a baseball game at night and it's the hottest, most humid day of the summer, I have many choices: I may stay home; I may stay for only part of the game; and, if I do go, I can take a mini-fan or use an ice vest to try to keep cool.
So be aware of the weather and how your body reacts to it. If it reacts poorly to heat, wait for a cold front. If not, crank up that air-conditioning and take it easy. This, too, shall pass!

Loving her day off school!!

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