Does Weather Makes Your Fibromyalgia Worse?
One of my friend who has fibromyalgia moved from Idaho to California.
She told me that she has been in California for three months and in these three months, she did not get her fibromyalgia triggered as much as when she was in Idaho.
It makes me thinking whether there is a real correlation between the weather and the fibromyalgia.
Does the weather condition such as cold, hot, warm, dry or humid triggers fibromyalgia symptoms?
If a correlation can be found and accurately verified, then it will mean moving to place where fibromyalgia pain symptoms do not get triggered will provide from fibromyalgia pain.
Before any conclusion can be made, it is important to understand how the weather affects the body.
Cold Weather and Fibromyalgia Symptoms.
The cold weather causes the soft tissues around the muscles and joints to shrink. The shrinking of tissues pulls the nerves which activate the fibromyalgia pain triggers.
The same condition is prevalent in the people who have arthritis or rheumatoid pain. In the cold weather, the body has to generate extra heat to maintain the standard body temperature.
What to do:
You have to keep your muscles loose and relaxed, and taking hot showers or wearing heat packs can help you relax your muscles and joint tissues.
Cold winter time also causes little exposure to the sun and the reduced vitamin D in the body which helps with controlling pain. Taking vitamin D supplement in winter can maintain the required level.
The Shivering is one-way body deals with the cold weather as shivering produces the heat required to keep the body warm, but the shivering creates additional soreness in the muscles which are already tight.
Shivering and cold climate causes the inflammation of muscles which aggravates the pain.
Hot Weather and Fibromyalgia Symptoms.
Now you would think that hot weather will be better for you as the hot weather will not cause the stiffness of the tissues.
There has been widely circulated misinformation on several pain-related forums and the internet that dry weather conditions such as those found in Arizona and California reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.
Now, this type of advice is farther from the truth. Weather does not affect as much in the fibromyalgia condition as it is the drastic change in the weather condition which aggravates the fibromyalgia pain.
A change in the air temperature, especially at the warmer temperature, increases the air pressure. The increase in the air pressure puts the additional pressure in the joints and tissues surround it thus causing pain.
The warm weather condition increases the ground level Ozone (O3), human health irritant and component of smog, which can cause additional inflammation and pain to people more sensitive to these changes.
What to do:
If you are someone who lives with the hot weather condition and is getting fibromyalgia symptoms worse, then it means you have a higher body temperature or possibly dehydration.
You need to lower down your body temperature by taking cold showers, staying in shades, wearing loose clothes and keeping yourself properly hydrated.
So what about my friend then?
Her observation that since she moved from Idaho to California and her fibromyalgia trigger symptoms has decreased is just a mere delusion. In fact, where is the best place to live with arthritis and fibromyalgia pain.
It is not the weather condition but the CHANGE in the weather condition which matters most.
A study conducted by Dr. Robert N.Jamison in association with Pain Management Centre at Harvard on 558 patients suffering from chronic pain in the four cities concluded that “ weather affects pain no matter where people live.”
These findings showed that it is not primarily the weather condition but the change in the weather condition which triggers the pain in many patients.
Your body is always adjusting itself to the external environments. Most of the times these changes are minimal such as a change in the temperature from day to night, but sometimes a sudden shift in the weather condition from warm and dry to cold and humid can leave body scrambling to regulate the temperature.
Consistent weather condition is the key regardless of which area you live. If the temperature swing is not huge or not very sudden, then it is very likely that your body will successfully adapt without stressing itself or triggering fibromyalgia symptoms.
The best place to live with chronic pain will be places where the temperature does not shift dramatically regularly
These findings countered the prevailing notion that warm, and dry weather is the best for people suffering from the chronic pain. Younger patients and patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia reported more sensitivity to these change in the weather condition than someone who is relatively healthy.
In the above survey, two third of patients said a change in the weather condition affected their pain and of those more than half said their pain was affected even before the weather changed.
Researchers have found that change in the weather causes the change in the barometric pressure which typically falls before the onset of rain or wet weather.
There is no one single best climate for fibromyalgia.
The shifts in the barometric pressure cause the muscles, body tissues, delicate and tender ligaments to adjust to a varying degree, and in doing so, can trigger the pain nerves which are already over sensitive to any external stimulus.
How to Handle the Change in Weather?
Preparation is the key whenever there is a change in the weather condition. Insulating yourself with the weather condition by maintaining the body temperature through working indoor, putting on proper clothing while going outside and keeping the humidity in the room can help your body to better prepare for the change in weather condition.
Learning strategies to keep yourself relaxed and getting a massage can also relieve stretched muscles around the joints.
Preparing yourself for the impact of a change in the weather conditions will not only help you go through the fibromyalgia, headache, migraine or arthritis pain but will also protect you from other side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and even cold.
Key Takeaway - Tips to Handle Winter Season
#1. Don’t consume Alcohol:
Alcohol are not only dangerous for your overall health but also drinking alcohol in the winter time can cause you to feel colder. The reason is alcohol causes the blood vessels to expand, which increases the body heat loss and makes you feel cold.
#2. Do light Exercise:
Walking and running increases your heart beats which increase the blood flow and increases the body temperature. When you walk or run, your muscle joints moves which reduce any stiffness in it. It is advisable to walk and exercise outdoor in good weather condition but in cold weather, do some indoor activities and if you must go outside then make sure to dress properly.
#3. Learn the sign of hypothermia:
A drop in body temperature can risk you the hypothermia which can be deadly. Pay close attention if you get drowsiness, disoriented, can’t think properly or having a problem in moving your limbs.
#4. Cover exposed sensitive body parts:
Your body parts such as nose, chin, ears or cheek are sensitive to cold and have soft tissues which can run the risk of frostbite within a few minutes of temperature below -30c. Put decent cover if you must go out in the extreme cold.
#5. Stay out of Wind:
A cold wind can reduce your body temperature far below than the actual outside temperature. Keep yourself out of the wind and if you get stuck in cold, windy weather condition then find a shelter.
Many people are sensitive and have allergies which also get triggered by the change in the weather condition. It is important to know if you have any allergies and be prepared beforehand to avoid getting any of the pain conditions getting triggered.
The following map shows the annual average maximum temperature in the US and the variance across the states.
Key Takeaway - Tips to Handle Hot Season
1. Keep Hydrated:
Your body needs water and contains up to 60% of water. It is important that you keep yourself properly hydrated in the hot weather condition. Drink lots of plain water and avoid drinking sugary or carbonated water since these drinks reduce your body’s ability to store water.
Most importantly, don’t wait till you get thirsty to drink water. You want to remain hydrated all the time.
2. Protect from direct sun exposure:
In warm conditions, direct sun exposure can not only cause blisters on your skin but also makes you more prone to get exposed to harmful ultraviolet lights. If you have to be outside in hot weather, then use shade such as a hat or put a sun screen lotion.
3. Splash your skin with water:
Extreme heat causes your outer skin layer moisture to evaporate which decreases the skin ability to protect you from the harmful solar radiations. Wiping your body with a wet cloth can help to keep your skin moisturized.
4. Dress loosely:
Your body need to lose the heat, and you need to put dress which is comfortable and a little loose so you can have air circulation around your body.
5. Keep hair tied up:
if you are a woman or someone with long hair then don’t leave your hair loose as it can obstruct the airflow around your neck and can raise your upper body temperature. If you have a long hair, then keep it braided and off to your face and body to allow air to flow along the neckline.
Which is the best place to live for fibromyalgia patients?
The answer is to live in the place where you will be the happiest and if you want to chose a place where your fibromyalgia symptoms will not be triggered then pick a place where the weather changes are not very drastic.
Anyplace where the weather change is very rapid and unpredictable will increase the likelihood of triggering your fibromyalgia symptoms.
The key thing to remember here is the consistent weather condition. It does not matter if you choose to live in Alaska or Arizona as long as the weather changes will not be abnormal or abrupt.
At last, everyone's body is different and reacts differently due to change in external conditions. You have to know about your body, and sometimes you will find that your body responds more favourably to warm than cold and vice versa, but this does not mean that everyone else will be reacting in the same way.
I believe this is the cause of confusion which many people discuss on the online forums about the place to live with fibromyalgia and arthritis conditions.
If you are choosing any area to move permanently and you think the weather is one of the important factors then before you sell your current house and pack everything to the new location, make sure first stay there temporarily and experience most of the weather seasons before you make up your mind.
Now you know how weather change can affect your fibromyalgia symptoms and although you can not change the weather but you can control your environment to lessen the impact of change on your body.
In case you are wondering about my friend who moved to California from Idaho, I suggested her to experience all the seasons of California first before she can make firm conclusion that the weather of California will not trigger her fibromyalgia symptoms.
How the weather change affected your fibromyalgia symptoms?
we would love to hear your experience in the comment below.
You can also join the discussion at the Fibromyalgia Pain Cure Facebook page which is dedicated to a discussion of natural treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.
Image Credits: Freepik and Pixabay