The United Kingdom is known for its poor and inconsistent weather, which is problematic for a number of health conditions including fibromyalgia. Shifts in the weather are known to trigger symptoms in the condition and increase pain levels. Continue reading, as we take a closer look at how various climate conditions affect fibromyalgia.
The root cause of fibromyalgia symptoms is unknown, however, many people with the disorder believe changes in the weather make it worse. Fibromyalgia patients may favour different seasons depending on their sensitivities, as explained below.
Some people with fibromyalgia have heat sensitivities and find weather that’s a bit colder more tolerable than hot. A heat sensitive person often feels burning sensations, coming from within, all over their body. This can make any slight touch or layer of clothing against the skin feel unbearable. Other side effects include puffy and aching hands and feet, as well as hot flushes, heat stroke and excessive sweating. Heat sensitivity, like most fibromyalgia symptoms, can be tied to the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). As detailed in a study stemming out of The Netherlands, the hypothalamus is a section of the brain that is responsible for keeping the body’s status quo, a process known as homeostasis, by linking the nervous system and the endocrine system. FMS patients are prone to an imbalance of the HPA axis, which disrupts the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis and can lower their human growth hormone (HGH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), cortisol and other hormones, causing a whole host of issues including sensitivities to temperature. This is evident with Dr. John C. Lowe, the Director of Research at the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation reporting, 43% of FMS patients have low thyroid function, meaning those with FMS are 10 to 250,000 times more likely to suffer from thyroid dysfunction.
On the other side of the spectrum, less sunlight and cooler temperatures, frequently onset symptoms, making winter also a dreaded time of year for sufferers. One of the reasons behind this is that people with fibromyalgia have an enormous increase in the number of sensory nerves on their palms and hands, according to findings by the Integrated Tissue Dynamics (Intidyn) in New York. Another reason is that our body temperature is regulated in our hands and feet, with blood vessels and shunts, opening up to let blood flow faster in cool temperatures, while exposing nerve fibers, fibromyalgia patients, with their surplus of nerve fibers, have greater pain in colder weather. Further complicating this issue is the fact that our hands and feet act as a reservoir and store and divert blood flow. Disruption at these critical sites, as seen in FMS patients, can result in mismanaged blood and cause muscular pain and aches. It can also contribute to a buildup of lactic acid, causing fatigue or hyperactivity in the brain, and inflammation. The increase in the number of these sensory nerves means drops or rises in temperature will have a large impact on FMS patients.
Above all, humidity hits fibromyalgia patients the hardest despite their normal tendencies. Researchers speculated this is a result of the weather, in either clammy or hot condition, feeling more oppressed. Given the biometric reasons above, fibromyalgia patients are also particularly vulnerable to weather fluctuations, as well as drops and rises in the barometric pressure, since their bodies scramble to regulate.
It’s interesting to consider, a fibromyalgia patient is rarely affected by both hot and cold but the dysfunction leading to their body flaring up is seen in both climates, whether the reaction causes noticeable symptoms. Can you relate to any of these issues adjusting to climate condition? Connect with us on social media, Facebook or Twitter, to let us know and stay tuned for our next blog entry tailored to aid fibromyalgia sufferers regulate their body and adjust to flare-ups brought on by temperature.
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