Cold Weather and MS

The winter can be a wonderful time of year, but for some of us, it can bring it’s challenges. With frigid temperatures, shorter days, and longer nights, many of us may find it harder to function during the winter drear, especially for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis that may experience flares in the midst of the seasonal changes. Even though the winter season may make things more difficult, there’s a few ways to optimize your experiences and promote better functionality. In order to help you get the most out your winter months, we looked at what other experts were saying and gathered the following information to help you take these chilly months with ease.

Julie from MS Connection offers a few tips to help you better navigate the winter and prevent possible flare ups. Try to soak up as much natural sun as you can (we realize, depending on where you live, this can be a bit of a stretch) in the winter to help your body promote the absorption of Vitamin D, which is great for nerve and bone strength. Exposure to sunlight can also help produce more endorphins in your body which can help fight symptoms of depression. Depression is a common symptom of MS that tends to worsen in the Winter. Try bundling up, but leaving your face exposed, and take a short walk around the block! Julie also suggests avoiding excessively warming yourself up externally, in order to compensate for the cold air. (For example, taking hot baths or knocking your heat up a notch). Excessive temperatures, at either end, tend to cause MS symptoms to flare up, especially when body temperatures change quickly. Instead, she suggests warming yourself up internally with warm foods like soup and tea. Need some soup suggestions? Check out some of our favorite recipes here.

Teva from LiftMS, outlined a few more MS focused tips to help you better manage your symptoms in the cold. To optimize blood flow and protect aversive reactions of your blood vessels to colder weather, utilize pocket hand warmers and heated shoe inserts. Bundle up in layers to help manage both the outside cold weather and indoor heat so you don’t experience drastic body temperature changes. And lastly, make sure to keep a track of your symptoms and any flare ups you experience. This will help you stay informed and don’t hesitate to relay that information to your doctor when needed.

Lisa from Brass and Ivory outlines some winter survival tips for those with MS and RA: She emphasizes the importance of maintaining a regular exercise routine, because many of us tend to fall into the winter blues and have less motivation to workout. Exercise really helps those with MS promote strength, decrease fatigue, and releases endorphins. Even if you have to start small, try to factor in just a bit of movement into your daily routine. It’s also important to stay hydrated inside and out. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and make it even easier (and tastier) by trying out some of these recipes for infused water. Be sure your skin is hydrated on the outside, with a regular moisturizing routine, to promote elasticity and prevent your skin from getting painfully dry and cracking.

The winter doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be a beautiful time for reflection and growth, even when learning to best manage your symptoms of MS.

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