Cold Weather and Multiple Sclerosis Changes

Cold Weather and MS | Natural Elements By L

Overheating during hot weather or in a hot bath are the symptoms I know best with multiple sclerosis (MS). It's been known to magnify my symptoms and many others living with multiple sclerosis (MS).

But for some, cold weather can be just as bothersome.

Cold weather enhances fatigue and spasticity for some with MS, but that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate all winter, or so many say. When the seasons change and it gets really cold, not just the normal cold, but that bitter cold — I get increased fatigue and also experience occasional electric like sensations primarily in my back, down my spine shooting through my limbs it feels. 

It’s not really known why cold weather can worsen symptoms in people with MS, but my neurologist Dr. Bagarva and many others at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore at the Center for Multiple Sclerosis, says it could be due to disruption of pathways in the brain and spinal cord. 

Cold Weather and MS | Natural Elements By L

A General worsening of symptoms from extreme temperature changes, then causes a lack of mobility, All you want to do is hibernate and stay away from whatever causes your symptoms to get worst which means you may not be getting enough exercise and movement in general at that point.  My doctor is constantly talking about exercise and its in MS. As a matter of fact I just joined a study a John Hopkins Center For Multiple Sclerosis to research the effects of exercise on MS patients... which is probably the most consistent exercise I've ever done, But I definitely feel less fatigued in general after exercising so I will sticking with it for the next 12 weeks and hopefully can condition my body to regularly exercise after.

Luckily I haven't experienced other symptoms that can come along with cold weather and MS. 

For instance, some people find that cold weather can cause muscle cramping, stiffness, and tightness. It can also worsen the MS hug, which is the tightening feeling around the torso that is caused by spasticity of the tiny muscles between the ribs.

Others find they feel more fatigued in winter months like myself. This could be an indirect result of coping with some of the muscle-related symptoms mentioned above or could also be that the shorter days and limited sunlight are making their depression worse—as you may know, depression is a common symptom of MS.

Still, others notice that the cold makes walking difficult, which could also be a result of muscle stiffness (worsening spasticity).

 MS | Natural Elements By L

Did you know that new data is emerging all the time on the role of vitamin D in MS. Experts have discovered that low vitamin D plays a role in developing MS, but now it’s looking like vitamin D levels also have an impact on relapses and the way we experience symptoms.

#BMoreMSAware | Natural Elements By L

I have put together some tips to help minimize any MS-related discomfort you or a loved one may experience in cold weather.

Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm

Some people with MS also have a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon, in which the capillaries in your fingers and toes overreact in the cold. As a result, the area under the fingernails and toenails turns blue and can be very painful. Be sure to wear socks double up if needed even around the house in the wintertime and keep an extra pair of clothes in your car for emergencies, there is nothing worse than being caught in an emergency and freezing.

Soak Up the Sunshine

Go outside during the warmest part of a sunny winter day, take a walk if possible, or just sit on the porch and soak in a bit of that natural vitamin D. Definately try to get a little exercise outside while you’re at it. And remember, sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, although, it could be hard for your body to make vitamin D when your skin is covered up. This is why your doctor may increase your vitamin D in the wintertime, so don't hesitate to talk to your doctor and ask if it may be helpful for you to get in increase during the winter months (be sure to not do this on your own, however).

Make Sure Not To Overdo the Heat Inside

As a result of the cold, you may run really hot baths or showers. But be careful. Remember, extreme heat is not your friend when living with MS, either. In the end, it's a delicate balance, so err on the side of caution rather than extreme heat in the cold.

Warm Yourself From the Inside with Natural Remedies 

Try drinking warm beverages like a cup of hot chocolate, teas that fight inflammation like ginger or turmeric tea, or decaf coffee to take the chill off and warm your body’s core faster.

Weather Extremes | Natural Elements By L

A Word From L

Cold weather and MS may not go together, but you can learn to tolerate the combination better. Like many other MS-related situations that you must get through, a little strategic planning about winter activities can help you have at least a little control over symptoms. So think positively, plan ahead, and make sure to stay warm this winter. 

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