Does Summer Heat and Humidity Affect Your Fibromyalgia?

Does Summer Heat and Humidity Affect Your Fibromyalgia?

Through the Fog
Does the heat and humidity of summer affect your fibromyalgia? I totally love and enjoy so much about summer, but humidity makes me feel nauseous and light-headed. I enjoy the heat if there’s a cooling breeze. As a side note, thunderstorms are one of my favorite seasonal treats.

In a recently published report in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, Dutch researchers followed 333 middle-aged women who had fibromyalgia. Looking for relationships between environmental conditions and reported pain and fatigue levels, the researchers monitored for over a month: humidity levels, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, temperature and sunshine duration, using data from a meteorological institute.

In some cases, they did find that weather changes had “significant but small” effects on the women’s pain and fatigue. But, for the most part, their conclusion was that evidence stood more strongly “against than in support of a uniform influence of weather on daily pain and fatigue.”

I completely disagree with those results as I know many, if not most, of you will as well. Damp rainy days increase my fatigue and pain. Cold days increase my pain, as I have really low tolerance of cold. Heat makes me feel better, but humidity is definitely not my friend.

According to a February 2002 study covered by Reuters Health Report and available on Disabled World, cool temperatures, humidity and high atmospheric pressure may be associated with spontaneous pain among individuals with fibromyalgia.  “These results support the belief that weather influences rheumatic pain, albeit in different ways, depending on the (underlying disease) and (the patient’s) weather sensitivity,” Dr. Ingrid Strusberg of the Centro Reumatologico Strusberg in Cordoba City, Argentina, and colleagues stated in the report.

Strusberg’s team analyzed questionnaire responses from 151 individuals with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. In the study, participants reported on their pain symptoms and causes over the course of one year. For comparison, the researchers also observed 32 healthy individuals. These reports were correlated with meteorological data for the Cordoba area.

The researchers found that for participants with all three conditions — fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis — experienced pain was significantly associated with low temperatures.

In this study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology (on which the Disabled World article is based), pain was also related to high humidity and high atmospheric pressure among rheumatoid arthritis patients, and high humidity among osteoarthritis patients.

For those with fibromyalgia, pain was associated with low temperature and high atmospheric pressure. The authors noted that no correlation between weather and pain was found among individuals in the comparison group.

I would love to hear about your personal experiences with heat and humidity as it relates to your fibro symptoms. Do you agree or disagree with the above findings?

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

50 comments

  1. StevefromMA says:

    I don’t know who they find for those studies but they don’t seem representative to me either. Cold causes allodynia for me, where the outside of my legs hurts a lot and my neck hurts and tenses. High humidity is even worse, with really bad body, leg, and neck pains. Despite all the meds I’m on, nothing has helped the crushing burning pains in my legs and feet, which just get worse in the humidity.

    • Bronwyn says:

      Yes to those who feel the heat/humidity cause our pain to get worse. The Summer months here in Australia are so much worse for me. It is this time of year that my “burning muscle pains” really wear me down, to the point that I cry in pain. To verify this, if I have to go further inland (where my siblings live), I find I can cope much better.
      I know others from Europe say that the Winter months are worse for them; however, I wonder if this is because they then turn on their Central heating to combat the cold??

      • Grace from Australia says:

        Bronwyn, after coming from Holland to Aus we lived first 5 years at Werribee Vic and now already 30 years in SE Qld. I am really amazed how in Aus they do not build their houses to keep either the cold and/or heat out. We now have air-con that does the heating as well but the lack of good insulation, even though we put it in the ceiling is not helping. Where we live now we have hotter/humid summers and colder winters than nearby Brisbane. I live for Spring and Autumn!

    • LINDA VANHORN says:

      I find damp, and cold weather are the worse for me. I also know when it is going to rain, cause my jaws hurt. I use Bio Freeze at night and it helps me to fall asleep easier. Swimming pool helps to relax me. I am not able to take any medications except Tylenol. Bummer! High humidity makes me lightheaded, but not really bad. We all need to just move to Hawaii! lol

    • Michal says:

      Hi Steve,i take it that you are a male ? I am Michal an Aussie male & find that for starter’s us male’s with fibro are a rare thing (Although more & more people are getting this illness everyday )
      I have many different problems with fibro & *fibro with the weather*.I have the standard sore neck,headache,shoulder’s,pressure point’s etc.But the main problem i am seeing is problems with the weather.I am 48yrs old & have had fibro for probably 20yrs.I started on the medical roundabout,as everyone in the old days did,until finding a doctor that helped me,even if that meant taking heavy pain & sleep med’s.But back to the weather,i get fatique with any weather change at all.I found about 8yrs ago that when a low pressure system was coming (within a day or 2) I was in a heap of pain + fatiqued,when the rain finally arrived,my pain etc would drop around 50%… Now i have heavy fatique with any change at all,low/high pressure change,any weather change at all,windy days,hot days,cold days,humid days,it doesn’t matter at all what the change is,my body respond’s to it in the way it want’s toAnywhere from a little sleepy & sore,to major pain & fatiqe to the point i am in a ball crying in pain,wanting to get out of myself to get away from the pain.I have the world’s best wife,that has been through the last 18yrs with me,including way back when i wanted to end my life,as the pain was to much to bear,through every scan etc up until now & has been my rock,thankyou Vanessa.Now i am coping with this way of life,rising every morning at 7am,sleeping a few hours every day depending on conditions upto a full episode 30yr marithon in bed in major trouble.I now have the lord as my rock (aswell as my lovely wife) & am positive of a recovery,1 day.I wonder how many other’s out there have a similar story.I think they we will find the cause & i Hope you like my story,sincerely Michal.

      • StevefromMA says:

        Hi Michal,

        Good to read your post, sorry to hear of your pains but thanks for writing. Robin thought our pains are all different but mine are remarkably similar to yours. This past week of unusually damp weather has been hell for me with the burning, crushing pain in my legs and the neck, etc. pains you mentioned. I, too, feel like I can barely cope with the pain sometimes, this week especially. It seems that there is nothing you can do but suffer with it. My wife has listened to fibro complaints for years also, sure she could use a break. I am seeing an acupuncturist who helps somewhat with general body pain but not the legs, nothing helps those. I use self hypnosis but very severe pain is hard to handle. Yes, I’ve never seen a male with FM. When I went once to a distant FM support group there were 14 women there. Well, let’s hope there are better days ahead.

        • Michal says:

          Hi again Steve & anyone else in USA,just wanting to know if med Cannibas is helpful,we are just getting it available in aussie land & am wanting to know is it worth having a go at,thanks Michal.

          • StevefromMA says:

            Legal here finally in MA and some people have found it very helpful but it takes work to figure it out, different things work well for different people. I did not want to smoke anything due to past lung problems but am getting desperate enough so I may try vaping at some time . I tried to make my own edibles and overdosed, also overdosed on mislabeled commercial MJ chocolate, idiots. I did find some lozenges somewhat helpful but, even after weighing them and trying to repeat the exact dosage, found that the maker was not even consistent through the same batch. The more local info you can get from other local users users and maybe the local sellers, if knowledgeable and honest, the better. There are hundreds of strains, though only a tiny few are available here, part of the problem, and several delivery methods. I tried a 12 hour patch, somewhat helpful, but then the maker tripled the infused dose, crazy, hard enough to tread the fine line between medicated and spacy. You either like that feeling or you don’t. Finding something to relieve the pain without other effects has been hard for me. I consider contemporary MJ strains to be potent drugs.

    • Amy says:

      I agree with you Steve. Cold and hot weather both bother me. Right now its very hot and humid here in the south and my I’ve had burning pains in my legs and feet for the past several days. I am on several types of meds as well and nothing helps. I can only stay out in the heat for minutes at a time, with a hat on, it makes me nauseous, sick and sweaty. My face also gets extremely red. Nobody can understand this except other sufferers. And up until 3 years ago, I was a pretty normal person.

  2. Debra Thurlow says:

    My pain is very much worsened by cold and damp. Heat and humidity causes me lightheadednesss, and extreme discomfort and exhaustion but not more pain!

      • Michal says:

        Hi Robin,i see your name on my screen quite a lot,so incase you miss the post comment i made to Steve,i will send it to you also,as follow’s.
        Michal says: July 13, 2017 at 11:59 PM
        Hi Steve,i take it that you are a male ? I am Michal an Aussie male & find that for starter’s us male’s with fibro are a rare thing (Although more & more people are getting this illness everyday )
        I have many different problems with fibro & *fibro with the weather*.I have the standard sore neck,headache,shoulder’s,pressure point’s etc.But the main problem i am seeing is problems with the weather.I am 48yrs old & have had fibro for probably 20yrs.I started on the medical roundabout,as everyone in the old days did,until finding a doctor that helped me,even if that meant taking heavy pain & sleep med’s.But back to the weather,i get fatique with any weather change at all.I found about 8yrs ago that when a low pressure system was coming (within a day or 2) I was in a heap of pain + fatiqued,when the rain finally arrived,my pain etc would drop around 50%… Now i have heavy fatique with any change at all,low/high pressure change,any weather change at all,windy days,hot days,cold days,humid days,it doesn’t matter at all what the change is,my body respond’s to it in the way it want’s toAnywhere from a little sleepy & sore,to major pain & fatiqe to the point i am in a ball crying in pain,wanting to get out of myself to get away from the pain.I have the world’s best wife,that has been through the last 18yrs with me,including way back when i wanted to end my life,as the pain was to much to bear,through every scan etc up until now & has been my rock,thankyou Vanessa.Now i am coping with this way of life,rising every morning at 7am,sleeping a few hours every day depending on conditions upto a full episode 30yr marithon in bed in major trouble.I now have the lord as my rock (aswell as my lovely wife) & am positive of a recovery,1 day.I wonder how many other’s out there have a similar story.I think they we will find the cause & i Hope you like my story,sincerely Michal

  3. PAMELA BERGMANN-KNEBEL says:

    I don’t understand these studies results either. Maybe not a big enough cross section. Maybe everyone responds differently. Summer heat and humidity tremendously increases my pain and especially fatigue. It doesn’t matter if I stay in the air conditioning, I still suffer. Spring and fall are better if no humidity. Winter is my friend; very little pain and fatigue. I am seriously considering moving to the mountains (I live in Iowa which is terribly humid in the summer) to reduce the fatigue and pain.From my many visits there the lack of humidity, BUGS and mild summer temps are enticing. I have not visited since being diagnosed but Colorado Rocky Mountains and access to cannibus oil are going to get me there eventually! My husband agrees but is still working and I’m still suffering!!

  4. Yvette says:

    Heat+humidity and cold+dampness both = exacerbation of all my fibro symptoms. So much so that I am unable to function and pretty much have to rest until the weather improves. I live in a climate that seasonally has both extremes so deal with this issue frequently. I echo the Steve who commented ‘I have no idea where they find these people for their studies’! Thanks for keeping us informed and giving us fibro warriors a sense of community, Robin!

  5. MAA48 says:

    Have had FM for over 40 years now. Dry cold is my friend, I am heat intolerant so heat and humidity make my pain worse. I live in the NE and the severe temperature changing weather fronts are just brutal, doesn’t matter – low to high, high to low, if they are significant, I feel it. The results of weather change “significant but small” confuses me. How can it be “significant” and “small”??

  6. StevefromMA says:

    Actually, Robin, while I’m here I will mention some news. I am in that FM/a clinical study, paid $$$ for test, passed, will be reimbursed by Medicare. Next step they will sequence my genome and put in database, several years but no matter. Last part is important, getting FDA approval for one shot vaccine in Boston that will, according to Dr. Gillis, cure FM. ABC news will be having an interview with Dr. Gillis, M.D. CEO of Epicgenetics, study leader, second interview with Dr. Faustman, head of MGH Immunology lab who will administer the vaccine and, gulp, me in the last interview talking about my difficult life as an FM patient for years. They came to my home for a few hours to film. When Dr. Gillis asked me to do it, I couldn’t refuse and feel very much the responsibility of communicating to doctors the public what we go through. I hope you all think I did. It should air in a few weeks and I will post here to let you know.

      • StevefromMA says:

        I made it through to the end without crying but got choked up, a great ending I’ll bet they’ll use. The hard part was when they tried to find things I do during the day…not much LOL, I have FM! I had to walk the line between a pain ridden semi- impaired old guy accurately showing my disorder and a relatively normal person who is coping. We’ll see how they edit it, am a bit nervous, my mom will see this!

    • Susan McCauley says:

      Steve, I would love to know when this will be airing. Please make sure you post the date and time. For me cold, heat and humidity affect me terribly.

      • StevefromMA says:

        Don’t worry, I will. I actually would like to get it over with and see how I come across and if a lot of FM folks and docs see it. I don’t think the FM community is really onboard with this test/concept though apparently people are signing up. The PR person said summer vacations have delayed editing.

        Today is a particularly humid and hot awful day here on Cape Cod, where, I guess, everyone will soon know I live.😗 The pain is awful and I hope I got that out there. When they asked what my pain was at the moment I said 6. I’d say 7.5 right now but you all know when you get up this high, the boundary is awful vs. hope you have a heart attack and check out.

  7. Grace from Australia says:

    Cold – more pain. Rain coming – more pain. Heat and humidity (Queensland, Australia); short of breath, nauseous and…guess what…more pain.

  8. Najla says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with heat. My joints love warm environments, my lungs hate them. My back feels good during Summer, my legs get swollen and heavy. What about the tingling in my hands? Worse, worse, worse. Maybe it´s because my hands get very puffy, to the point I can´t take my wedding ring out of my finger.
    Humidity is different tough: it is awful hot or cold. If it´s hot, I can´t breath, and my body gets so tired, and sweaty, that sometimes I can´t even sleep. And if it´s cold humidity, it´s pure hell…… even tough hell is supposed to be hot.

  9. Mandy says:

    I definitely have a major problem with low pressure systems and cold/damp weather, but I love the heat and I don’t seem to have an issue with humidity although I’ve only ever experienced it on vacation! During the fall and winter months here on Canada’s west coast I feel like a walking barometer as my body reacts to the ever-changing barometric pressure and when it starts to dip (which is often) I go through hell 😣 In the summer, I love the heat and I wish it lasted longer! I still react if we get a change in the weather, but usually with headaches and more neck tension than the incapacitating body pain I experience in the colder months!

    • Bee says:

      Hi Mandy, I live in the same area. I moved from the Prairies.

      I am the same way, the winters are awful for me here due to the barometric pressure and the dampness (mold is an issue for me too). I also love summer, the hotter the better (though it’s dry heat that I love; even pre-Fibro I couldn’t deal with humid summers).

      Wherever I am, in the fall my pain starts to ramp up. I can’t deal with cold, nor dampness.

      How I wish I could live where it’s hot year round. I have stayed for extended periods in areas like that, and I felt so much better. Not cured by any means – but felt as close to normal as I had in decades.

      • Mandy says:

        I agree Bee, a warm dry climate year-round would be ideal for me as well! The cold, damp and grey weather here in the fall and winter months doesn’t just bring on increased pain, but adversely affects my moods as well. I don’t think I get depressed exactly, but I certainly notice a huge difference when the sun does make an appearance! We live in a gorgeous part of the world, but eight months of the year it isn’t fun.

  10. Vickie says:

    Weather changes are brutal on me, especially high to low pressure changes. I cannot take the cold as it aggravates my Fibro symptoms and the pain increases. Humidity is just as bad. I agree with those who cannot understand this study’s results.

  11. Hi Robin. Thank you for your post. As always, the info you give us is very helpful. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Yesterday it was 80 and sunny. Today it is 58 and raining !! Lake Superior surrounds us on 3 sides. The extremes in temps and weather cause extremes with my fibro symptoms also. I do better with cooler temps.These studies really confuse me too. Having lots of pain today. Oh well,will see what tomorrow brings.Blessings to all.

      • Janet Rheinheimer says:

        I hear ya Cheryl. I live in northern Indiana, along the Michigan State line. I’m only 30 miles (or less) from the bottom of Lake Michigan. We also have the same variation in temps each day. We always joke, “if you don’t like to weather today, just wait a few minutes, it will change. That’s Indiana weather for you.” Gotta love it…. Or move down south…. LOL

  12. B Wilson says:

    For me, humidity certainly plays a roll as to how I feel with fibro…Humidity is dampness, dampness, rain, snow storm !ean that I ache more. Also with humidity my feet, ankles, legs swell…which mean more pain.

  13. Sherri says:

    In the winter months my pain is much worse. In NC we have heat & humidity almost 9 months out of the year now, and my pain is a little better but the fatigue is horrible. It is a no-win situation.

  14. Stephanie L. says:

    I find that my symptoms of fibromyalgia are definitely triggered by cold, high pressure and humidity. The pain is excruciating in southern Minnesota, when I have to be out scraping ice off my windshield. Cold was never painful until I had fibro. Also, I am having an almost worse time with our summer humidity lately, although I realize it’s not nearly as bad where I am than other areas of the states. But I do experience nausea and the fatigue seems ten times worse with humidity; I almost hate these symptoms more than the pain itself.

  15. StevefromMA says:

    Idk, I am not troubled by nausea or fatigue but the pain is so intense in this weather as to be nearly unbearable.

    Maybe we could swap symptoms for a while LOL.

  16. Marilynne Rowland says:

    Any season change for me is rough. Tolerate fall the best. I do prefer the winter over summer because we live in such a hot, humid environment and dampness is a bear for me. I can actually walk into a room and know immediately it is damp. I feel barometric pressure changes first. I am a better weather person than any out there! Just began hurting then heard there are pop up showers around the area. Surprise!! My pain and fatigue increase. I drink a tea made from Frontier Co-Op organic stinging nettle leaf that seems to help my body rid itself of the dampness & phlegm. Might help someone. Can add lemon and honey, which also helps.

  17. Serena Sult says:

    Hello everyone! I live in Oklahoma and the weather does play a lot on my life.. During the winter I am homebound since I cannot take cold at all (had reconstructive neck surgery and C3-T1 I am pins, plates and a cage and due to the surgery I have fibromyalgia) I moved to Florida for about 1 1/2 years and loved it.. it felt good to have the hot sun on my back, the humidity was lower there and didn’t bother me as much as it does here in Oklahoma. I am ready to go an be where I can live somewhat of a normal life..

  18. Janet Rheinheimer says:

    I definitely have pain issues as the weather changes. High atmospheric pressure changes cause both muscle aches & migraines for me. And the High humidity also takes its toll on me. Not only does it cause additional pain issues, but it also causes breathing issues for me – creating a heavy chest & labored breathing problems. My horror time is if I were to enter a steam bath or indoor pool area. The extra humidity really causes havoc on my system. However, the heated spa pool is extremely soothing to my aches & pains. I to enjoy a nice thunderstorm, but sadly, my body seems to have other plans. One thing that I have found to be EXTREMELY HELPFUL in alleviating Fibro muscle pain is Magnesium Gel. It’s a wonder pain gel for me!! I found it on the Bio-Innovations website.

  19. Diane Lanzi says:

    I love all the information I am getting from everyone. I have fibro,R A,osteoarthritis,2 knee replacements,hip replacement,and back surgery for arthritic back. I am so tired of being in pain. I find weather conditions make things worse. I am living with New England weather. There are times people don’t believe me. I am depressed but still moving as much as I can. Last week I visited the White Mountains of N.H. And now I understand why I was in pain. The air pressure in the mountains. I have tried,acupunture, have R A ,Dr, and nueropthy in my feet . I have been taking infusions too. I have felt exhausted since I had severe mononucleosis in 1988 and just retired 2 years ago. Where do I go to now?

    • Robin Dix says:

      Diane, thank you for sharing! Find something you’re passionate about and see if you can monetize it or create someth8ng for those in shelters. I’m in NH, where are you?

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