Fibromyalgia and Weather
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a very difficult condition to live with. Not only does it cause relentless fatigue and muscle pain, but it is also associated with dozens of other symptoms, including depression, dizziness, and nausea. If you have been suffering with fibromyalgia for a while now, then you may have noticed that your symptoms tend to get worse during certain seasons and weather changes.
How Does the Weather Affect Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Many fibromyalgia patients claim that changes in the weather directly affect many of their symptoms. In fact, many fibromyalgia sufferers claim that their symptoms vary according to temperature changes, changes in air pressure, and changes in precipitation in their part of their world. Most fibromyalgia sufferers claim that they experience changes in:
- sleep patterns
- muscle pain
- the number of symptom flare ups
What Weather Factors Affect Fibromyalgia Sufferers?
There are five major weather factors that appear to affect fibromyalgia symptoms. These include:
- Temperature: Cold weather tends to make fibromyalgia symptoms worse, while warmer weather tends to ease those troublesome symptoms.
- Barometric Pressure: Fibromyalgia sufferers often find that these changes in barometric pressure can trigger muscle aches and pains.
- Humidity: When absolute humidity is low, fibromyalgia sufferers often report headaches, stiffness, and flares in widespread pain.
- Precipitation: Precipitation is often accompanied by a change in barometric pressure, and therefore may exacerbate your symptoms of pain and fatigue.
- Wind: Whether it’s a light wind or a gale-force wind, wind generally causes a decrease in barometric pressure. This means that wind can trigger fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches in fibromyalgia sufferers.
Weather and Fibromyalgia: The Studies
Numerous studies have been conducted in order to evaluate whether or not fibromyalgia symptoms do appear to be influenced by changes in the weather. Most of these studies have had surprising results. For example, when participants were asked to rate their pain symptoms, on a scale from one to ten (every day for 12 months), these symptoms were correlated to weather patterns for the entire year. Researchers found that pain symptoms of the participants with fibromyalgia correlated directly to weather changes. Specifically, pain increased as temperatures fell and atmospheric pressure increased. The healthy control group did not show any correlation between pain and weather patterns.
Why Does Weather Affect Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Unfortunately, researchers do not yet know why weather appears to affect fibromyalgia symptoms so much. However, there are a few possible explanations:
- Change in Sleep Cycle: Weather, particularly hot and cold temperatures, can sometimes affect the way in which you sleep. This could have a great affect on symptoms and flares if you are a fibromyalgia sufferer.
- Change in Circadian Rhythm: Your body operates using an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. Changes in seasons and the amount of light that your body receives can throw off your circadian rhythm, causing you to feel fatigued and more achy then usual.
- Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines: There does appear to be a relationship between low temperature levels and an increase in the number of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. These cytokines appear to be related to pain intensity.
Dealing with the Weather: Managing Your Fibromyalgia Symptoms
If you find that your symptoms are influenced by weather changes, here are a few tips to help keep you more comfortable:
- Dress in Layers: Prepare for those chilly days by dressing in two or three layers. This will keep your body warm and allow you to shed excess clothing should you become hot.
- Avoid Cold Temperatures: Try to keep your air conditioning off in your house during the summer, and keep your heat up during the winter months. If you have to go outside in the cold, dress appropriately; this will keep your extremities warm and prevent aches and pains.
- Bring the Sunshine Inside: If you are finding that you are particularly fatigued or depressed, try to increase the amount of light you have inside of your house. During the gray winter months, it is easy to become depressed and tired, which will only make your symptoms worse. Purchase some halogen bulbs or a special light box to help improve your mood.