A good number of people who are diagnosed with autoimmune disease experience sensitivity to heat and cold, or extreme weather conditions. Our providers at Enhanced Wellness Living can shed some insight on this condition as well as discuss the treatment options available to you during your initial consultation.
Autoimmune Disease and Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
The impact of extreme weather varies greatly from patient to patient. For instance, people with rheumatoid arthritis often experience pain, swelling, and numbness during rainy or winter season, while others have no or very little symptoms. Because autoimmune diseases come in a variety of forms, experts are not yet entirely sure why weather-induced flare-ups only affect certain individuals.
Possible Explanations for Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
Extreme Weather Conditions
Extreme weather conditions put additional stress on your body, which becomes more apparent if you have an autoimmune disorder or other medical condition that compromises your body’s physiological function. One specific condition known as cold agglutinin disease—a type of autoimmune hemolytic anemia—has its symptoms or flare-ups only occurring in prolonged lowered body temperature.
A good number of people diagnosed with autoimmune disease who experience flare-ups in cold weather have reported reduced symptoms when they move to warmer regions. But interestingly, a few patients fare better in colder environments.
Some experts attribute cold-induced pain to physiological changes, particularly the constriction of blood vessels when you go out in the cold. Constricted blood vessels may not just result in pain but also numbness, swelling, and discoloration, which are mostly evident in your foot and hands because of the distance from the heart.
Aside from physical stress, emotional stress is also tied to autoimmune flare-ups.
One type of autoimmune disorder attacks thyroid tissue, a ductless gland in the neck that secretes hormones that play a critical role in metabolism and growth, and can make someone susceptible to heat and hot flashes. This condition, called Hashimoto thyroiditis, interferes with the body’s ability to regulate its temperature.
Aside from sensitivity to heat and cold environments, flare-ups associated with Hashimoto thyroiditis also include fatigue, large weight fluctuations, irritability, and anxiety.
Possible Ways to Reduce Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
Since autoimmune disorders come in many forms and vary in severity, there is not a single approach to combat one’s sensitivity to extreme weather conditions. Consequently, you should observe your “triggers” and possibly come up with ways to mitigate the symptoms and flare-ups based on your individualized response. Some approaches can include:
- Wear warmer or looser clothing
- Stay physically active
- Monitor the effects of any hormone medications you may be taking
If you are struggling with sensitivity to either warm or cold climates due to an autoimmune disease, be sure to schedule your initial consultation with us to explore your treatment options. We look forward to hearing from you!