Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Is it the summer or winter weather that impacts your MS the most?” from Oct. 6, 2018. Have an experience you want to share? Leave a comment below or at the original forum topic.
I live in a moderate climate. Summer in Seattle is typically dry and warm, though not like a furnace. (Shh, don’t tell anyone, it’s Seattle’s best-kept secret.) Winter is hit or miss with snow, and the deep freeze is more likely to be dark and gloomy. Oh, and yes, there’s rain! Spring and fall make transitions that are gradual and cooler than other parts of the country.
I didn’t always live here. For 12 years, I lived in Chicago. There’s nothing moderate about that climate: Chicago has steamy hot summers, frigid snowy winters, and brief passages of shoulder seasons in April and October.
I loved Chicago — except for the climate. That rising finger of Gulf Coast humidity just does me in when it reaches the Great Lakes. When it strikes, I’m hit with GI tract problems and profuse sweating. My gait and speech both become leaden, and cog fog and blurry vision take over.
But we all know MS is different for everyone. I know people with MS who absolutely cannot take cold, wintry weather. I have friends with MS who are thrilled by Arizona’s hot, dry summers and monsoons, and who couldn’t tolerate Seattle’s rain.
How and why do temperature extremes and relative humidity affect our MS symptoms?
Thermoregulation in MS
The body’s ability to regulate temperature is known as thermoregulation.
It’s one of those functions that we may simply take for granted. Sure, we sweat when we’re hot, we shiver when we’re cold, and we feel swings in temperature when we battle infection.
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