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Heat and Humidity’s Effects on My MS

Heat and Humidity’s Effects on My MS

Faith of the Mustard Seed

When I awaken and start each day, I feel like a hygrometer (a humidity-monitoring device). My body is so in tune to any rise in humidity that I can visualize a red line slowly climbing higher and higher.

With each rise of the red humidity line, I can feel my gait slowing and my inflamed legs growing a mind of their own. Every step feels as though I am treading through thick, high grass.

Merriam-Webster defines humid as “containing or characterized by perceptible moisture especially to the point of being oppressive.” It defines humidity as “the state of being humid.”

“Oppressive” is an excellent word to describe the effect humidity can have on our MS bodies. When heat and humidity collide, the stifling combination can send my body’s movements into slow motion, with a kick of pain added.

The increased pain appears as deep, burning cramp. It starts with my feet (most times) and works its way up my legs, and moves quickly to my arms and hands. Stretching helps the pain, as do homeopathic leg cramp pills with magnesium, and applying ice packs to the affected areas. That relief can be short-lived, so I then move on to massage along with lotion and over-the-counter pain medicine.

Humid conditions can also strike while taking a shower. But, if I stay aware of the water temperature and use an exhaust fan, the humidity can stay lower. Otherwise, my heat-inflated legs won’t move correctly to help me out of the shower. describes what people usually mean when they use the word humid:

“People like to say that it’s not the heat that bothers them, it’s the humidity. They say this because when it is humid, or when there is a lot of water in the air, the heat feels hotter. It also makes wavy hair frizzy and straight hair limp. Air that is cold and moist is called damp, so when people talk about humid air, think tropical, as that’s usually how the word is meant.”

Fatigue also increases for me with heat and the humidity. Just when I think I can’t get any more tired, my body lets me know otherwise. Any ounce of energy I had saved is gone once the temperature rises. So if the forecast predicts hot temperatures, I plan accordingly. Anything that I need to get done has to be done in the morning; I reserve the afternoon for projects that can be done while sitting and keeping cool.

Having all of your energy drained is a scary place to be. I have thoughts such as, “Will I have enough energy to walk to the bathroom?” and, “Are my legs strong enough to make it to the kitchen for lunch?”

Being aware of the havoc that heat and humidity can bring to MS is half the battle. The other half is planning for it and enjoying your summer. Ease your life with MSby being aware and proactive.

Please join us at the MS News Today Forums and share how the heat and humidity impact your MS.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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  1. Sarah Fuller says:

    I have to say that taking 100 mg (NOT mcg) of Biotin three times a day has given me my summers back. Heat intolerance gone! I can’t recommend trying it enough 😀

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Sarah, That’s awesome! I was on the Biotin protocol for a year, I felt better at first and then my walking started to decline, So I stopped it. I may try it again, how long have you been on it? Debi

      • Hi Debi – a question, do you think the biotin caused the walking decline? I would like to try the biotin as the heat really bothers me but I won’t if it makes my walking worse. Thanks

        • Debi Wilson says:

          Hi Michele, I don’t think the Biotin caused my walking decline. I just think it was my natural disease progression and the Biotin didn’t stop it. I am going to try Biotin again, I did notice some improvement with it. Plus, if it helps with the heat intolerance that would be great! Thanks for your question, Debi

      • Debi Wilson says:

        With Biotin, Carol? I wasn’t aware of side effects when I was on it. With heat and humidity yes to stiff legs! 🙁
        Thanks for your question, Carol! Debi

    • Pat O'Connor says:

      I’m still feeling (sticky skin-legs) heat intolerance in London on in October!
      Where can I get 100 mg of biotin health stores only have 10000 mcg?
      Do you go to the hospital for this?

  2. since i was diagnosed with M.S o9/2017, my life was chattered. I suffer from many medical and psychological issues. I fight each day. I notice that i have no sexual life.Is this due to M.S ?

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Maria,
      MS can be the cause of many issues, the disease is different for everyone. Your Doctor knows you and would be the best resource to answer your question. thanks, Debi

    • Russ says:

      it is the fight of our lives…which type of m.s. did they label you with? i have a very aggressive type, and tho each of us have a unique collection of failings, for me, sex works, even helps my condition….

  3. Zenda Trim says:

    Heat and humidity ugh. I hate it. In the UK now the weather is changing almost to a tropical climate. One day really hot then raining and sometimes I can close my eyes and think i am actually still living in Hong kong all those years ago.

    I just feel drained and the fatigue is well overwhelming. I cant wait for the winter again lol.

  4. Phil says:

    Bali, with MS? Good luck. It is a fantastic place, but the humidity is intense. Dry heat is not as bad, I gather. But everyone I know, with MS, feels drained, in this country, with a bit of heat. Got off the plane in Bali, and it was like a sauna!
    At the time, pre-MS, it was fine. But I would not try it, now.

  5. Ana says:

    Wow! That’s the catch! Humidity!
    I can’t tolerate the heat anymore and all the time looking for the cause of such exhaustion!
    Thanks a lot Debi and all others!

  6. Rob Teer says:

    I’m a 39 year old stay at home Dad, living with MS, to my 5 & 2 year old boys. I too had an awful heat tolerance, but I was NOT gonna raise 2 boys onside attached to TV or computer/tablet screens! So, I ATTACKED my heat tolerance 2 summers ago. I fell down, I bled, I puked, but I BEAT IT! I can now get as HOT & SWEATY as I want! It WAS NOT EASY, and I’m not suggesting that everyone with MS can do it. We can all do ANYTHING, if we have the Lord in our hearts.

  7. Margaret O'Neill says:

    My MS is very affected by extreme heat and increased humidity as well. I didn’t know Biotin helped with Heat Intolerance. I took it for a while to address Alopecia. It helped. I will try it again. Thank you.

  8. Lynn Nettles says:

    I recently went to vegas and California and there was zero humidity. My ms symptoms decreased and I was able to get out in 97 degree weather without sweating. Best I’ve felt in 10 years.

  9. Julie Gould says:

    This describes me exactly. At my last neurology appointment I expressed concern that my MS was progressing. My neurologist explained that it was extreme sensitivity to humidity causing Utthofs syndrome.
    Clearly, it isn’t extreme sensitivity as so many of us with MS are noting the same issues. I think our anecdotal reports should be taken more seriously. Humidity literally short circuits me.

  10. "Aunt Jane" Harmon, OTR, retired says:

    If you can just get to the bathroom (the one with the tub in it, if you have a choice) relief lasting a good part of the day may be moments away. Fill the tub with water as cold as you can get it; if you live in a hot climate where the water never gets colder than lukewarm in the summer, you may need to add ice. But not too much.

    The idea is to create a storehouse of cool in those legs of yours so the more leg you can get into the water the more storage space you’ll have. This is not like taking an “ice bucket challenge” from the bottom up. Too much ice will cause the surface vessels to seize up as your skin screams out in pain. A slower soak in cold water will help the entire leg to cool, giving you a great start to your otherwise hot-and-humid day.

  11. Hi Debi – Just an update – I started taking the biotin on June 23rd. I reached out to my neuro dr who gave the ok on 100 mg 3x a day. So far so good – no side effects. And I’m not sure if its psychological, but I actually have more energy. Not sure if it’s power of positive thinking or the central air!

  12. margret says:

    I am 70just diagnoised with MS, had an MRI, not sure what to expect I have all the symptoms that are said you experience especially the legs and heavyness and cramps, my eyes hurt my head feels like it is always something going on.
    I could not get an appointment with the Neurologist until Nov., so I don.t know what to expect. Scared and worried

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Hi Margret, I’m sorry about your diagnosis,I know it can be scary! Keeping active, eating healthy foods and taking vitamin D3 are all important. I’m sure your neurologist will go over that with you when you see them. I hope you will join our forums you can talk with others and ask any questions you may have. The best to you, Debi

  13. Vanessa Nogueira says:

    Wow, I can’t relate to this at all!
    I’m starting to believe I’m the only person in the world who likes humid heat way better than dry.
    Here in Portugal it’s very dry and it gets very hot in the summer. It’s horrible! Most days, as soon as Instep outside, my vision starts deteriorating. It’s like you can’t sweat and there’s no relief, almost like you’re out of breath and I feel myself getting more and more dehydrated by the millisecond.

    I was in Singapore and Malaysia recently and it felt a million times better. I sweat like crazy, but it didn’t feel like my insides were burning and textured like sandpaper, so that’s cool. Also, it took a lot longer and a lot of walking for me to even start to have symptoms.

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