While many of us look forward to heading outdoors during the warmer summer months, those who suffer from fibromyalgia might not be so enthusiastic.
Studies have shown that patients with fibromyalgia have pain sensitivity to both warm and cold weather extremes. People have even been known to move to more temperate climates to avoid extreme weather.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread discomfort in the muscles and bones, general fatigue, sleeplessness, and other cognitive problems. The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that over 5 million Americans suffer from the disorder.
Doctors and researchers still don’t know what causes fibromyalgia but believe that hereditary characteristics combined with a triggering event like trauma, infection, or stress are the source of the disorder.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia are similar to those of other conditions, and there is no definitive test to confirm its diagnosis. Because of this, fibromyalgia is commonly misdiagnosed.
Although fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, there are therapies, medications, and habits you can use to manage your symptoms and be less miserable during those simmering summer months.
Surviving the Heat with Fibromyalgia
People with fibromyalgia have reported feeling the following symptoms during warm weather:
- Swollen hands and feet
- Heat sensitivity
- Excessive sweat, red face, nausea, dizziness, headaches
- Increase in pain and fatigue
- Dry mouth and throat
- Disturbed sleep
Doctors recommend paying close attention to your symptoms during the summer so you can better manage your condition. Here are some tips that can improve your overall well-being:
1. Stay Hydrated
Drink water throughout the day by carrying a bottle of water with you, taking small sips at regular intervals. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink because it will cause you to dehydrate.
2. Avoid the Heat
Try to stick to air-conditioned environments, and if you do find yourself outside, make sure you protect yourself with a hat, umbrella, or sunscreen.
The last thing someone with fibromyalgia pain would want is to expose themselves to too much heat. Drops in barometric pressure, associated with changes in temperature, cause joint pain.
Plan to do your chores in the early morning or after sunset, and try to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. You also might consider a portable fan, placing a damp cloth on your neck, or dabbing ice cubes on your wrists to avoid getting overheated.
3. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Refrain from wearing tight-fitting clothing and try to wear garments made with natural fibers like cotton because they will help your skin breathe. Lighter colors are better to wear because dark colors absorb heat, and light, loose-fitting clothing can make a world of difference.
4. Maintain a Healthy Diet
People with fibromyalgia have reported experiencing less pain when they have stuck to certain foods while avoiding others. Sound medical advice includes good nutrition, which can help prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will help your body best deal with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia. Other dietary strategies include eating more plants than meat, drinking plenty of water, and reducing sugar intake.
People have also found that eating certain foods, like gluten or MSG, has made their pain worse. If this happens, individuals can keep a food diary to track what they ate and how it made them feel afterward.
5. Monitor the Air Quality
During the summer, people living with chronic pain should be aware of the air quality. Air pollution increases inflammation in the muscles and joints, including fibromyalgia. Before heading outdoors, check your local weather report to find out the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Learn More About Clinical Trials in Boston
Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial for fibromyalgia? We have a wide variety of clinical trials available if you qualify and meet specific criteria.