If you have a chronic pain condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia, you might be one of the many sufferers who feel that hot weather affects their symptoms. Experts aren’t certain exactly why this happens, but they do have a few theories.
First, people who suffer from chronic pain often have difficulty regulating their body temperature. So when the temperature changes -- it suddenly gets hot, for example -- you may find your pain flares up, too.
Second, the temperature can change the properties of the fluid that lines lubricates your joints. In hot weather, this fluid can thicken, increasing inflammation in your joints and causing aches and pains.
Third, high heat and humidity can cause an increase in the levels of ozone in the environment. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, MS, or other chronic illnesses, excess ozone can cause physical distress and pain in the body.
Finally, keeping active is known to relieve chronic pain, but hot weather can leave you feeling lethargic and make you less likely to exercise. This reduced movement can lead to stiff joints, aching muscles and increased pain.
What can I do to manage my pain in hot weather?
For chronic pain sufferers, global warming means that heat-related pain may become an even bigger issue. It’s more important than ever to have some tactics up your sleeve to minimise the effects on heat on your pain.
Here are some simple steps you can take when the temperature soars:
Stay indoors, especially during the hottest part of the day. If you do need to go outside, don’t overexert yourself and cool off with frequent breaks inside or in the shade.
Keep your home cool with an air conditioner or fan. When you’re inside, open windows and keep curtains or shades closed to stop the glare of the sun from overheating your home.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fruit and vegetables. This will help you feel your best, give you more energy, and help keep chronic pain at bay.
Stay active. It can be difficult to exercise on hot days, especially when your pain is flaring up, but the NHS says being active every day can reduce the number of bad pain days. Exercise little and often, making it part of your daily routine, and don’t exert yourself too much on hot or painful days.
Plan your week. During hotter times, the Weather Flare app show you which days your pain is most likely to flare up. Use it to plan when to go out, when to stay indoors and rest, and when to tackle the most strenuous tasks.
Dress for the weather. Opt for light colours, breathable fabrics like cotton, and loose-fitting clothing to help keep you cool.
Go for a swim. Swimming is a low-impact cardio exercise that’s easy on the joints. On a hot day, it’s the perfect way to keep your body active and cool off at the same time.
The Weather Flare app is especially designed to help people with chronic health conditions. We’re currently in the beta testing phase of the app, and would love your feedback so we can make it as helpful as possible. Download it today on iOS and Android and see how it can help you.
Help us crowdfund to finish building the Weather Flare app. The finished version will learn how the weather is affecting the user’s condition/s and produce a personalised weather forecast showing good, bearable and tricky days. https://igg.me/at/weatherflare/x#/