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Adrienne Dellwo

Weather's Influence on Fibromyalgia Symptoms

By June 14, 2013

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Research Brief

A new study suggests that weather does not have a uniform effect on people with fibromyalgia. However, researchers concluded that some individuals with the condition are sensitive to certain weather conditions.

For about a month, they looked over symptom reports from people with fibromyalgia and then compared them to 50 different aspects of the weather. While some people did seem to react to certain conditions, they didn't find any consistent patterns.

This is something many of us probably could have predicted, from having conversations with our fellow fibromites. Some of us are heat sensitive, some of us are cold sensitive, some of us are both. Some are bothered by wet weather or barometric pressure changes. Some don't have any particular reaction to the weather. As usual, nothing applies to all of us.

Misleading Headlines

I've been annoyed by a lot of the headlines I've seen on stories about this study. Most of them simply declared weather had "no impact" on fibromyalgia symptoms. It's one of those cases where people who scan headlines (which, let's face it, is most people these days) will get the wrong impression. So when your son or coworker or neighbor tells you you're wrong about your weather sensitivity, you'll know where it came from!

This conclusion doesn't match those from a study last year, either. That paper said increases in humidity, rain, and heat could lead to more pain the next day for some of us. Those researchers said weather conditions seem irrelevant - it was the changes that got us. You can read more about that study, as well as a poll on what weather bothers people like you, here: Effects of Heat, Humidity & Rain.

I personally have issues with both heat and cold. I haven't paid enough attention to know whether the changes above or in barometric pressure has any effect on me.

Learn more:

Do you have temperature/weather sensitivities? What do they do to you? What helps? Leave your comments below! (Please understand that comments may not appear immediately.)

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Alice/Getty Images

June 14, 2013 at 8:17 am
(1) Ela says:

I like you am fed up with all these so called people saying weather does not effect us with Fibromyalgia, l was diagnosed in 1997 and ever since l have had this illness the rain, wind and humidity has effected me. I live in the UK where it is nearly always wet and humid so my fibro has never abated if anything its gotten worse through these weather changes, l find the only time l feel really what l call well, which is less in pain is when we have a bout of really hot + sunny weather or we have a very dry (no wind) fresh spring. It seems to me that asking just 50 people is not enough they need to ask every person who has been diagnosed then try listening to their answers!!! Then maybe we will get closer to understanding this diabilitating awful illness!

June 14, 2013 at 8:44 am
(2) Priscilla says:

Heat brings me exhaustion to the point of taking sleeping a lot during the day and feeling a weakness when I’m not sleeping… Cold weather makes my body hurt & stiffen as humidity brings me soreness and body aches. Thank you Adrienne for all you do for us. God Bless You and Your Health. xoxo

June 14, 2013 at 9:31 am
(3) Nancy A. says:

I’m always in a lot of pain, so weather doesn’t really matter that much, but I’m very cold sensitive (partly due to my hypothyroidism). I also have Raynaud’s disease, so I need to keep my hands and feet warm even in the summertime.

June 14, 2013 at 10:26 am
(4) Peter Jackson says:

I live in the South West of Scotland where the weather is notoriously changeable and anyone who says the weather has no affect on FM is simply wrong! Two doctors have told me to move to Spain! Our weather can change half a dozen times in a day and my fibro goes up and down to match! Every FM sufferer I know is the same!

June 14, 2013 at 10:59 am
(5) Marilyn L. says:

I am definitely affected by changes in the weather. And humidity seems to make my symptoms worse. I live in Washington State so we experience a lot of rain and humidity. It used to be that I felt better in the summer in warm/hot weather, but I am more sensitive to that now as well.

June 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm
(6) Linda says:

The rain and humidity affect my pain Greatly. I live in the middle of New York State and I have found that the only time my pain is tolerable is if it is low humidity and in the mid to low 70′s temp. Sadly the weather here is not like that. I am fortunate that unless it is below 20 degrees in the winter I don’t suffer as bad as some others due to the cold. But the heat usually comes with humidity and that kills me .Wish I could find a place to live that was low humidity and 70′s all year round I would live there in a heartbeat.

June 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm
(7) Carrie says:

It doesn’t matter how much I take care of myself, I can’t combat the effects of a Canadian Winter. I am wondering about those sun lamps for the future…? The weather is the ONLY thing I know for sure that makes things worse, at least for me.

June 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm
(8) Liz says:

Wow! Do the doubters want to swap bodies for a month?

June 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm
(9) Dianne says:

I can tell you that weather definitely has an efffect on me. I also have arthritis so it affects that too. The other day I had a guy come to look at my pond and it was raining out as it had been for several days. I was already feeling a little worse for wear but that day I stood out in the rain for about 2 hrs. and got soaking wet and cold. I could not move for the next 3 days. I should have known better but I had to be out there with him to discuss what had to be done to fix the pond so I just did what I had to do. Next time I’ll use an umbrella and try to stay drier!!

June 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm
(10) Lynn says:

One thing I’ve noticed with all these “studies” is that the size and controls of the studies vary widely. This can account for many discrepancies between studies. If you ask for apocryphal evidence, you are going to get a much different outcome than if you try to discover physiological changes in the body. So I feel strongly that you cannot simply accept that because a doctor calls something a study, it’s based on the same criteria as any other study in that area. That seems to hold particularly true of fibro.

June 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm
(11) Aran says:

I live in Ireland, notorious for the wet and cold. Today’s the 14th June and the temperature’s struggling to get to 14*. I find going to Spain and feeling the heat in all my bones definitely eases all my aches and pains, so, for me the weather has a marked affect on my pain, aches and arthritic stiffness. Starting to save for my next trip away!

June 14, 2013 at 8:17 pm
(12) Helen says:

Hey Aran, yes wet and damp west of Ireland! did you enjoy last week?

I could save the weather stations some money, my worst days just before a deluge.

June 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm
(13) Margie says:

I have recently moved to the New Mexico from the Great Lakes area ~ specifically to live in a warm, dry, sun-filled climate.

Humidity (in both hot and cold weather) is always an issue re. pain, but the most significant effect on my well-being is sunlight ~ or lack of sunlight. I’ve found the sunlight here makes a profound impact on my pain levels and overall mood.

Unfortunately, I didn’t factor in the higher altitude here, and am having to adjust to that shift. But, I’m hopeful for the long term.

June 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm
(14) Lynn says:

I have FMS & CFS and live in VA and the weather does affect me. In fact so much so I have even been thinking about moving lately. The cold weather makes my pain worse, then when it rains or snows I am in much more pain. Then in the summer with the heat I suffer with more fatigue than pain. However when it rains I do have pain but it is in no way as bad as it is when it is cold out. I was born in DC and lived in No.VA all my life. My life and roots are here in VA but I just don’t know if I can handle another winter with the pain it brings to my body. The meds for the fibro have either not worked for me or the side effects were so bad that I could not keep taking the medicine so I am on nothing to help with my pain. There are times I am in so much pain I am so miserable and just feel like this is not how I want to live. I go to a water exercise class three times a week and have a dog which I walk with and I garden and do other things to keep my body moving. I eat better now and make sure I get enough sleep. Is there anything others take that they can suggest I try? I would appreciate others feedback because I just do not know what to do. One thing I say to people who say things to me about not believing in my illnesses or make sarcastic remarks is I would really hate for you to walk in my body and skin for one week and then see what you would say. That seems to shut them up. :-)

June 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm
(15) Lynette Pena says:

It seems like the studies they are doing are still just trying to downplay or minimize our symptoms, rather than truly understand them. I feel like the researchers are biased and already have an idea about how the studies SHOULD turn out, and then make it so.
To me this is more so in the United States, it seems like some other countries are really actually trying to make an effort to understand fibro and ME/CFS, at least from what I’ve been reading…

June 15, 2013 at 12:07 am
(16) Avigdor says:

Changes in weather affect me severely. My rheumatlogist’s office fills up too.

June 15, 2013 at 8:53 am
(17) Ivette says:

Well…I live in Puerto Rico and the tropical weather is always changing. I also have told my family and friends that maybe I should quit my job and work as a meteorologist, instead. Rarely I miss forecasting the weather even before the weather news do. I also have osteoarthritis along with my FM. So its really painful all the time. We have a lot of humidity, rain, hot weather…and if you are inside a building, like in my office, the air conditioning is so cold that I needed to buy for myself a portable desk heater and two sweaters. This morning it was raining a lot and a few hours later, now there is a lot of sunshine and humidity, which means that in a few hours there will be downpouring rain. I need to work at least for ten more years…my reumathologist thinks I won’t be able to make it.

June 17, 2013 at 3:13 am
(18) Debra An says:

Yes, cold is worst for me then hot, but both cause me problems! I hate the winter for that reason and that is why we live close to the beach now, as the temperature does not fluctuate that much in San Diego, CA. I do not like or put up well in dry heat as it can cause me dehydration! I try to avoid areas like that. The breeze is great and never to cold down here. I could not like in an area where there is snow for months on end in the winter! The temperature for me has to be consistent for me to feel comfortable and it cannot fluctuate too quickly.

June 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm
(19) barb says:

the weather is definitely a factor. i know it and i learned to work around it. i know my body better than any researcher or doctor. let them say what they will, we all know what works for us and what doesn’t. follow your gut instincts.

June 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm
(20) C says:

Long story short, I do better in the spring and summer. Fall hits and wow! …what a change. When I get cold regardless of the season it is like life / my body stands still. My pain level increases 2 notches and it’s terribly uncomfortable and awful. This in turn affects my emotions etc.

June 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm
(21) Cynthia says:

Hey, Linda! I left the middle of NY State the year after I had to shovel 4 ft. of snow off my roof. I was miserable all year around up there.
I deliberately chose to move to a drier, warmer and higher altitude location; it took 15 and a half years for my sinuses to catch up with me! So, well, now I’m acclimated to here and have a couple of new sources of snuffles and weather headaches but my real surprise is how much the barometre swings even here! But at 9 to 11% humidity, I am so much more comfortable, for the most part. When I need it, the warmth feels so good; and we sometimes get a little snow, which I can deal with for the day or two it lasts. Fortunately, I really like where I am, because I can’t travel any more–can’t handle the stress, the change in weather, the change in humidity is a real killer–and forget flying, buses and crowds. Only one trip back east was enough for me. I’m my own proof of how weather affects us–obviously the “research” was less than adequate.

June 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm
(22) Christina says:

Ya! They tried to tell my son that weather does not bother my grandson who has Jr. Ostio Arthritis they live by Rexburg Id. they are trying to move cause they know different. He is now 3&1/2 and he hurts when it is cold and when the weather changes. I do to!!. and I hurt when the air conditioner blows right on me in the car. I hurt when I work out in the hot sun all day and then come in and sit down. Then the next day boom!!! done to much. Summer is better for me in some ways but in others I get out there and do way to much and I am down for a week. I have Fibro. Chronic Fatig. and Ebstine Barr Virous. My Glands are at war with each other constantly in my left side of my neck. Always swollen. My left leg I have already had one removed to make sure it was not mil gnat cause one was swollen so much that I sat down and it hurt all the time. that lasted a while now there is a stream of them and one big one again. Doc says to leave them alone that we know they are not malignat so it must be the EBV. I Have lymph-nodes swollen all over that hurt and can’t hardly where a bra. I now am on speed just to get me moving in the morning and during the days. so I am not sleeping all the time. One doc said to keep track of my white blood count cause of the EBV. and my doc. said don’t worry about it. Who knows any more. I been thinking of going to a Arthritis doc. see if he knows more. In stead of just a family doc. The one who said I have EVB. was an Ear nose and throat . He really cked me out a long time ago, seemed really good. ????

August 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm
(23) Ty says:

I am realy touched by all these comments. Painfully so as others would feel that all of these are make-believes. Personally I pinned away in pain for 15 yaers during which I was not spared of wrong diagnosis & meds, misgivings by family & friends & even medical personels, etc. I was finally diagnosed on the 25tf of june. After many tests.
In all my experiences for the whole of these 15 yrs- YES weather does impact on fibro. Increased pain in cold and exersperation in hot.
I would not know if I have any other ailing condition(s) but I sure know that reading through the experiencies of others feels like echoing myself.
Researchers shouid be ready to do something that will truely impact on positively on science & in turn on the life of those who are waisting in this way.
I have learnt never to expect a positive action or reaction. So as matter of principle I only talk about my condition when I find it necessary and only when am emotionally ready to handle talk-downs and sarcasms.
I’ve been with about.com for some months now but had never really given attention to articles on fibro simply because I’ve not been diagnosed. I try to read from many sites so as to keep pain off my mind. But in the last four months, the pain level had been excrutiatingly high. I’ve not done much of anything as a matter of fact. Hope to explore more and share my experince too.
Thank you Andrienne

September 6, 2013 at 6:10 am
(24) Jinnyb says:

Well I know that the weather affects me! It’s raining heavily today and I’m in agony. The heat affects me as well, not so much abroad but then that’s more of a dry heat so it helps, but the hot Summer we’ve had here in the UK this year has made me so miserable because of the humidity, I’ve been in so much pain. So anyone who says the weather doesn’t affect Fibro, well they obviously don’t suffer from it and have no idea!

November 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm
(25) Curtis says:

ymaniem produkcji Grzeczna sklep monitory. siedmiomilimetrowego naboju

pistoletowego Mausera, u_ywanego w klasy erp – <a href=”http://www.inwestowanie24hat.se/jak-radzic-sobie-z-informatyzacja-wlasnej-firmy.html”>Curtis</a>, perpeszach dodatkowo tetetkach, sko_czy_y si_

rosyjskie peemy. Uleg_a czas utrzymuje na nabój niebezpo_redni, wszelakich mutacji

poczciwego ak47 tudzie_. W Rosji spluwa mqszynowy by_ broni_
bandytów, którzy

naogl_dali si_ zachodnich filmów, gdzie _mia_ek z
ingramem czy te_ uzi w wszelkiej _apie

zalewa_ zon_ deszczem o_.

November 21, 2013 at 5:46 pm
(26) Kim Hope says:

Living in Sydney Australia has its challenges but I find for me personally is not so much the weather at the time but the constant changes in the weather. In the last couple of weeks it has gone from a hot sunny 30 to a cold rainy 16 then a humid 25 and today thunderstorms after a hot humid night!! I was diagnosed with RA and FMS 4 years ago and and am on some pretty nasty meds but I’m up and about. I have some down days but am grateful I am able to enjoy being out and about with my daughter not crippled in bed or reliant on a wheel chair to get around. I learnt that the way to deal with well meaning people is to just smile, shake my head and agree with what ever they are saying and to take each day as it comes. I’ve learnt not to get worked up over people who do not want to understand.. I have some family members who still don’t get it! My energy is best consumed on me, my girl and my husband not the dolts who are energy suckers… Hugs to all..

December 11, 2013 at 12:42 am
(27) carol says:

Weather definitely affects me. My pain is worse when the biometric pressure is changing. I also live in New Mexico and our weather changes quite a bit especially in the northeastern part. I always have shoes on from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. If I don’t wear some type of footwear my feet are freezing. I cannot walk at all without any type of shoe on in summer or winter. Like someone else said on their comment, only if the doctors that do the studies would walk in our shoes for only a week in different areas of the country they would not be saying weather does not affect us. I’ve lived in Arizona and the winters are great but summers are too hot but right now I’m really thinking of having my home in New Mexico during the summer and living in Arizona during the winter months. During the summers it gets into the 80s in New Mexico and in the winter the temp in Arizona is in the 60′ or 70′s most of the time that’s why there a lot of people that migrate to Phoenix and Tempe during the winter. They call people that migrate snowbirds in Arizona.

January 16, 2014 at 1:24 pm
(28) Kas says:

I went to a neurologist this past Nov. for my constant migraines and was diagnosed with Fibro. Now all the symptoms I have had for the last five years make sense. I had been to my Obgyn, Family Dr, and several specialist and no one knew what was wrong. I was made to feel like a hypochondriac but I knew there was some reason I hurt all the time.
I am trying to find all information I can about Fibro so maybe I will find relief. I search website daily for answers or suggestions. My fiance thinks I am just making matters worse by looking stuff up but to me its is finally finding an answer and hopefully relief. And yes this cold Ohio weather that seems to change day to day does make me ache. Thank you for the article and all the post they really help me understand that I am not crazy and not the only one. Thank you! = )

February 18, 2014 at 6:32 am
(29) ginamaria says:

My 16yr old daughter was diagnosed with fibro in Feb 2013. This is the most exhausting thing both of us has ever been thru. She seems to more affected with the cold weather. Especially snow. She gets so run down. It breaks my heart seeing her like this.

April 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm
(30) Shea says:

I was diagnosed with fibro 4 years ago ,i live in Canada and the season changes can be extremely drastic and i have noticed every spring as well as fall my symptoms are a lot worse, mainly headaches, neck pain and diziness but i certainly know weather effects me! I dont think 28 days is long enough to see drastic enough weather changes considering the weather doesnt have much “change” campared to the crazy changes where i live!

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