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Impact of Temperature Variation on Multiple Sclerosis

Heat or high humidity can cause many people with MS to experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms.

Doctors believe heat or humidity can cause a worsening of symptoms in patients diagnosed with MS because heat causes nerves (whose myelin covering has been destroyed by MS) to conduct electrical signals even less efficiently.

For reasons that are not well understood, extremely cold temperatures and changes in temperature can also cause MS symptoms, usually spasticity, to flare.

How can I keep myself comfortable?

  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Extreme temperatures may worsen your MS symptoms.
  • Use air conditioning. If hot and humid conditions worsen your MS, try to stay in cool and dry areas as much as possible. A home air conditioner may be tax-deductible for some people with MS; talk to your doctor.

It is important to remember that while climate may worsen the symptoms of MS, climate changes do not produce more actual nerve damage. The adverse effects of temperature and humidity are generally temporary.

© 1995-2013 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/8/2010...#11665

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