(updated Dec. 2020)
Fibromyalgia patients often report that changes in the weather affects many of their symptoms. Many fibromyalgia sufferers feel that their symptoms vary according to temperature changes, changes in air pressure, and changes in precipitation. Most fibromyalgia sufferers claim that they experience “flares” when the weather changes.
They may experience a worsening of their fibro symptoms including –
- More pain
- Poor sleep
- Decreased moods
- Low energy
- Foggy thinking
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.
In 2002, a study was conducted in Cordoba, Argentina, where there are four distinct seasons every year. The study involved fibromyalgia sufferers and a healthy control group and aimed to find out whether pain symptoms could be linked to specific weather changes. Participants were asked to rate their pain symptoms on a scale from one to ten, every day for 12 months. After 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.
Another study performed in Norway found a similar relationship between fibromyalgia symptoms and the weather. Fibromyalgia symptoms appeared to get worse during the months of December and January, but began to improve during April and May. This suggests a direct relationship between colder temperatures and lower barometric pressures and a rise in fibromyalgia symptoms.
According to a study performed in 1981, a large percentage of fibromyalgia sufferers may actually be sensitive to changes in the weather. In this particular study, 90% of patients claimed that weather was one of the most important influences on their fibromyalgia symptoms.
Why Does Weather Affect Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Unfortunately, researchers do not yet know why weather appears to affect fibromyalgia symptoms so much. However, here 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.
Weather Factors That May Affect Fibromyalgia Sufferers?
There are five major weather factors that appear to affect fibromyalgia symptoms. These include:
Changes in Temperature: Rapid changes in temperature can sometimes trigger a fibromyalgia flare or help to ease fibromyalgia pain. Cold weather tends to make fibromyalgia symptoms worse, while warmer weather tends to ease those troublesome symptoms.
The Barometric Pressure: Barometric pressure is a measurement of the weight that is exerted by the air all around us. On beautiful sunny days, barometric pressure tends to be quite high, but during a storm or similar weather front, barometric pressure drops suddenly. Fibromyalgia sufferers often find that these changes in barometric pressure can trigger muscle aches and pains.
Increased Humidity: Absolute humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor present in each unit of air. When absolute humidity is low, fibromyalgia sufferers often report stiffness, and flares in widespread pain.
Precipitation: Precipitation is the term used to refer to any type of water that falls to the ground from the sky, including rain, sleet, snow, or hail. 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.
Do you have flares when the weather changes? How does changes in temperature affect you? What about storm fronts? I find that my patients with fibromyalgia can lessen their weather flares by building up their stress coping savings account and stress coping glands with my Fibromyalgia Jump Start Program.
Staying hydrated, drinking plenty of water, getting a consistent good night’s sleep, and reducing your overall-stress are crucial for reducing future flares. Making time for prayer, meditation, or stress reducing reflection are important health enhancing daily routines and should be incorporated into your daily routine.