Cold Weather and MS

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The summer months is usually when we experience increased symptoms with Multiple Sclerosis and we are encouraged to do whatever it takes to keep our body core cool to prevent this from happening. So we think that this means that we should be pretty much symptom free during the winter months, or at least I do. Why then do I experience so many problems during the winter months as well? Unfortunately I am not the only one. It seems there are many of us that are also having trouble with the cold from several comments that I have read.

I believe that probably one of the reasons why we don’t tolerate the cold weather very well is due to the decreased amount of sunshine during the winter months, the days are shorter. Sunshine provides us with Vitamin D which helps reduce symptoms and exacerbations.  We are all encouraged to take  Vitamin D supplements daily year round to help, but still we have decreased amount of time in the sun due to the cold weather. A suggestion has been to visit a tanning bed to expose yourself to artificial UV light which also will provide vitamin D.  The tanning bed increases your risk of developing skin cancer, so you should limit your time in the bed  and keep visits to a minimum.  A lot of us suffer from seasonal depression during this time of  year, and it has been said that the tanning bed helps to reduce the symptoms of this.  Depression  can increase your pain level and fatigue which will make you feel sick.  We all want to stay in the warmth of our homes during the winter which means that we decrease our activity levels. When we slow down on our activity our focus can turn back to ourselves how bad we are feeling.  It is like a dog chasing his tail when all of the above things start happening.

MS, being an auto-immune disease, leaves us vulnerable to catching the winter cold’s and flu if we aren’t careful. It is important to eat healthy, get plenty of rest, stay away from large groups of people where you could be exposed to such things. Make sure you get plenty of exercise or at least your activity level which will help keep your joints and muscles moving. Drink plenty of fruit juices or take a multivitamin to assist you getting the necessary vitamins that you may not be getting through your diet. This will help strengthen your immune system.  Avoid hot showers, baths, and hot tubs as this will increase your body temperature and will cause increased MS symptoms.

Aleve and other  anti-inflammatory  medications will help muscle aches and joint pain. Muscle relaxers should help with the muscle spasms, and there are prescription medications that can help with depression and pain when over the counter medications doesn’t  work. Keep an open dialogue with your physician about how you are doing, keep a daily log of all  your symptoms between visits so you can remember exactly what you are experiencing; this will help your doctor treat you appropriately.

Most people. including myself. has said that temperatures been 55-75 degrees is when they feel the best, unfortunately most of us don’t live in that climate year round, but how great that would be. It is important for us to do whatever we can during these times so it doesn’t become the most dreaded time of year.

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.
  • Dan

    Great informative post, Lisa! We’ve been dealing with sub zero tips in Michigan with more to come 🙁 My hands stop working in the cold, and Jennifer turns into the Tin Man. Stay warm, and keep your eyes on July!