You're freeeezing. You're too hot. Now you're chilled. Sound familiar? Even if there’s no Goldilocks “just right” temperature for everyone, people with fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis (MS), and chronic fatigue syndrome, among other conditions, can really relate to the challenges that arise from temperature sensitivity. And yes, it can worsen symptoms as well as make you uncomfortable. In MS, for example, heat exposure, exercise (which boosts metabolism), or a combination of the two can temporarily impair both physical and cognitive function. The root causes of temperature sensitivity include nerve damage that affects your ability to feel heat or cold, or dysfunction in the part of your brain that controls or responds to temperature. As a result, environments that feel totally fine to others can feel very uncomfortable to you. The best course of action is to address the underlying cause of the issue, but there’s no reason not to make yourself more comfortable in the meantime. If you’re always cold, take care to wear layers and treat yourself to hot baths and infrared saunas. Or, if you’re prone to overheating, wear breathable fabrics, make sure you have reliable air conditioning, and seek out shade on sunny days. If you have MS, pre-cooling before exercise (like immersing your lower legs in 68-degree water for a half-hour) can help keep your core temperature down and up your comfort level during a workout. Of course, there will always be elements you can’t control—like that dang office AC that does. not. stop. running—so just do your best. (Hey, what about tucking a space heater under your desk?!) As you work with a practitioner to determine what’s behind the symptom, you can work on your own to target it even more effectively.
- Cell. Warm-sensitive neurons that control body temperature. Cell. Warm-sensitive neurons that control body temperature.
- The Clinical Journal of Pain. Review of overlap between thermoregulation and pain modulation in fibromyalgia. The Clinical Journal of Pain. Review of overlap between thermoregulation and pain modulation in fibromyalgia.
- Autonomic Neuroscience. Thermoregulatory disorders and illness related to heat and cold stress. Autonomic Neuroscience. Thermoregulatory disorders and illness related to heat and cold stress.
- J Appl Physiol. Thermoregulation in multiple sclerosis. J Appl Physiol. Thermoregulation in multiple sclerosis.