Fibromyalgia Can Make Us Sensitive to Temperature Changes

Fibromyalgia Can Make Us Sensitive to Temperature Changes

Through the Fog

Changing seasons can wreak havoc on the pain levels and the overall sense of wellness of people with fibromyalgia. Not only are we sensitive to temperature changes, but also to barometric changes.

Whether you tend to be sensitive to heat or cold, temperature fluctuations can cause your disease to flare and your pain to increase. It’s interesting how I am more comfortable in an air-conditioned environment in the summer; warm rooms make me feel nauseous. And in the winter I struggle to feel warm, even if the heat is on, making my pain level decidedly worse.

If you are vacillating between hot and cold, it may be helpful to wear layers. That way, you can take off and put on as necessary to accommodate the craziness that’s part of fibromyalgia. Hormonal imbalances and certain medications can be factors as well, especially in women.

Those who are sensitive to heat can experience excessive sweating and hot flashes, and be more prone to heat stroke. It’s especially challenging if you are experiencing excessive heat internally in hot weather. Be sure to stay hydrated and, if possible, in a cooler environment.

Those sensitive to cold (like me) may feel it more in their hands and feet, but it could be all over, too. It makes winters something to dread. I have thought many times of moving somewhere that is less cold than New England. Maybe someday.

Did you know that research shows people with fibromyalgia have an inability to adapt to changes in temperature, as well as a lower pain threshold to both hot and cold stimuli? this probably isn’t news to you, as you are living it, but it’s good to know that research backs up our experience.

Another expert theory states that the thyroid gland is to blame because it helps to control body temperature. Did you know that many fibromyalgia sufferers also have hypothyroidism, which means the thyroid is not functioning properly, leading to temperature sensitivity? I have that issue. My diagnosis of fibromyalgia coincided with my diagnosis of hypothyroidism.

If your thyroid is functioning normally, low blood volume or poor circulation could be the culprit behind your temperature sensitivity.

Severe cold and extreme heat can register as painful experiences in those of us with lower pain thresholds. Perhaps that might explain why temperature sensitivity is so common among those of us who experience pain sensitivity.

Every season has its challenges; I’m either hot or cold. How about you? Do you experience this?

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.


  1. Em says:

    I hear you on this one. The symptoms continue to get worse. I have always had a high pain tolerance. My thyroid problems were finally addressed and now the dosage of Nature-Throid is well w/in the normal range now. I tried telling MD’s I was allergic to the synthetic-both the name brand and the generic. Because this is so rare I could not get an MD to listen or refer me to a specialist. I did find an NP who did listen. This did help. There are far too oft times my days are wasted.
    The depression is getting worse and it has been determined that my depression is treatment resistant .
    So hard to not give up. Any of the meds used for Fibro made things worse.
    Best I can do is eat healthy-no refined foods, gluten or sugar. Also no dairy products. I keep trying and no longer know what to do. Feel much like a sub-human.
    Enough of my pity-party. Atypical for me to be here. I will eventually reeve myself back up. Outer stimuli is unbearable on days such as these.
    No friends or family as they don’t understand and say cruel things. It is not their fault.

    • Denise Bault says:

      It is your family’s fault. If you had cancer, would they be interested in finding out about it? My recommendation to you is to either continue to try and educate them OR stop and surround yourself with people who do care and do want to learn about it. (The ironic thing is there may be an hereditary component to this awful illness.) It sounds like you are surrounded by toxic people. I have gotten them out of my life and now use my energy for things that either make me feel better or someone I love feel better. You might want to consider that, along with counselling. My therapist suggested I get involved in clinical trials as a way to “find purpose” with my life. Maybe we can help others with this horrible illness…

    • Diane Shepherd says:

      So sorry to hear about your struggles. I do best in warm/hot weather…cold is so difficult for me. None of the “fibro” meds worked for me. Medicinal marijuana and its derivatives offer some relief. I find that Paxil (an older medicine for clinical depression) works well for my depression. Have learned to live with the pain; the fibro fog and fatigue are more troublesome for me. When the fibro flares, I find that chiropractic care, massage and sleep help. Prayers for your relief.

    • , The fog and pain has just drained me I don't like even talking about it because everything so negative but thanks guysAudrey Hazard says:

      Thank you for sharing! I feel the same way and I am so burnt out I’m just existing… Hope seem so far away and not touchable. Are used to be a very positive person , The fog and pain has just trained me I don’t like even talking about it because everything so negative but thanks guys

    • Jordana says:

      I’m new here, and this was the first place I found that wasn’t a strictly medical page. I was just diagnosed with fibro yesterday, after years of wondering if the pain/fatigue/fog was just ‘depression hurts’ as the commercials used to say. I’ve been fighting the fight against Depression since I was a teenager; I’ll be 40 in a couple of years.

      Your post resonated with me. My first thought was “they have depression and fibro? Cymbalta?” I remember when I was on Cymbalta about a decade ago, how I was surprised that my aches and pains went away – I’ve been questioning how overdue my dx really is… And then I saw that you said that the fibro meds make things worse. I’m so sorry to hear that. It must be so frustrating.

      If your Depression (yes, Capital D, it’s that damn important) is getting worse, and you’ve been classified as treatment resistant, has your psych doc talked to you yet about TMS? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a fairly new treatment for depression that’s for people who are treatment-resistant, and most insurance will cover it. It worked for me.

  2. Sha'ula says:

    Ditto here. Still have not found practioner able to address possible minor nuances of hypothyroid, and poor circulation, but plugging away. I moved to Florida 15 years ago to help with just this issue. It has made huge difference along with warmth and daily sunshine. I will probably never live anywhere else because of the horrible affects of even cooler weather. I cannot tolerate extreme heat, so on those days I go out in early morning or late evening, but stay in AC during day. I have various weights of sweaters and pajama pants. Like today I had on long sleeves and pj pants, but all of the sudden got hot and stripped bare under ceiling fan. I think the inflammation flare ups also causes the fluctuations in tolerance. I keep cool packs and heat packs on hand as well as Therma Care back and neck heat packs.

    • Denise Bault says:

      Same here! I would actually rather be in 100 degree weather than in 50 degrees. I dress in only what is comfortable. The most uncomfortable is a bathing suit, but going to the pool (warm, moist heat, my friends) is the absolute best! That along with the Vitamin D I get from the sunshine has me looking “healthy” although I am any thing but. I find I even have different types of blankets from the most sheer to a sherpa and will have to change them as I feel the heaviness is too much, or I’m too cold or too hot. Crazy what this illness has us do! We’ve got a front moving in tomorrow and I can already feel it today. Will still force myself to go to the pool, as it is one of the few things that actually makes me feel better! When things are especially bad, I will use my “bed buddies” which can be purchased at CVS or Walgreens. You can either heat them up in the microwave or put in the freezer. They have handles on them so they are easy to move around. A few drops of lavender make them smell better. I will also pull out my TENS unit. Thank God those came down in price. You can get one on the web for around $30…great for those horrible muscle spasms I seem to have everywhere!

      • Barbara Jans says:

        I was diagnosed with it earlier this year but, frankly, wasn’t sure I believed it. I’ve had bad arthritis and have just had my second hip replacement – three months ago. At the same time I started what I suppose was a flare up. I hurt everywhere, don’t have migraines but I do have bad leg spasms and saw your comment on it. So leg spasms are common with fibro? What do you treat them with? My doctor told me to drink tonic water and I have but it doesn’t always help.I also have had depression since I was a teenager and also now have anxiety. The fibro has been so bad since the surgery that I can barely move. Can surgery have triggered this flare up?
        Thank you.

        • Denise Bault says:

          Barbara, ABSOLUTELY surgery can trigger fibromyalgia and/or make it worse! For the muscle spasms, I take magnesium supplements. You can also get magnesium through Epsom Salt baths, whether it’s a complete bath or just a foot bath. A TENS unit can help with the spasms in your neck and shoulders. (Can get one on line for less than $30.) For my arms/legs, I use a compounded cream that has ketaprofen 5%, lidocain 5% and cyclobenzaprine5%. Voltaren gel can also help. Both are prescription meds. I also take cyclobenzaprine orally which is the generic for Flexeril. It helps with the spasms and can help with sleep. I also get trigger point injections from my pain mgmt. doc. Generally they use steroids that are shot directly into the muscles in my neck, shoulders, upper back, down the side of my spine and in the lumbar region. Those really help, but you can’t do them forever. I’ve been doing them for maybe 1 and a half years. Used to go every 8 weeks for them but now have to wait 10 weeks between shots. Hope some/any of these things bring you relief!

  3. I still live in Montana and hopefully always will. I did enjoy a sultry (for me)March week in New Orleans this year, but I cannot take heat! While it may help somewhat with my symtoms, I am so umcomfortable when I get hot, I actially ache more! I am the family baromoter, always aware of a storm or fair weather coming. This super moon has been a bother too! I alwys will pray for my fellow sufferers. Keep on keeping on????????????

  4. Grace from Australia says:

    Thank for these insights as it explains so much. This one finally explained why I often feel nauseous in summer. I’ve had FM for so long that I know most of my problems but this one had me puzzled and I wondered if it was some sort of infection. I find that charcoal tablets help when I feel nauseous and I also take them most days just as a ‘clean up’ of the system in the evening. I have several large and small nodules in the thyroid and just try Kelp tablets and transdermal iodine as the doctor does not give a good suggestion. Have tried Somac for the thickening of the oesophagus but the side-effects became evident after only a few days. Was itching all over, like insects were crawling over me. Don’t know what to do about this problem yet. Anyone???

  5. Judith says:

    I’ve never found a solution for the itching/bugs crawling sensation on my skin. Drives me nuts some days! I try smoothing lotion on my skin but it doesn’t really stop it.

    Anyone else found relief for that? I hate that feeling of having ants crawling all over me.

  6. Lynn says:

    I can’t take the heat. But I can’t control it at work. The air conditioning isn’t set low enough for me. Anything over 70 degrees and I sweat. If I sweat all day I’ll get prickly heat which hurts as well as itches. I have to dress in layers in the winter. If it’s too hot I’ll have to wear a short sleeve shirt. It’s dumb to have to sweat in the winter. My skin gets so sore I can wear a regular bra. I have to wear a sports bra due to the chaffing. I’m on thyroid meds and was told I was in normal range. I’ve been on Fentanol patches for years since I had neck surgery years ago. I’m allergic to other pain meds. My doctor is retiring and she told me it might not be possible to get them with a new doctor. I’m super scared that I won’t be able to work if that happens. I’m looking for other options. I’ve tried everything they suggested.
    My family doesn’t understand either. example: My mom told me “everybody has pain”. A cousin: “just put on your big girl panties”. ????

    • Tim Bossie says:

      We are truly sorry Lynn for the problems you have with both the fibro and your family not understanding. For many, that is the hardest part… their family not understanding the pain and hardships. We wish you good luck with your doctor and that you are able to find another one who cares and will help you through all the problems with fibro. Keep layering and trying to find what works for you as far as weather goes.

    • Denise Bault says:

      Lynn, Shame on your mom and your friend. Not everyone has pain. And only those with fibromyalgia know what the unrelenting, never-ending pain is like. You should tell your friend to put on her big fibro panties and learn something about your illness…if she wants to remain a friend of yours!

      • Em says:

        The cold pretty much does me in and I am so depressed I cannot stop crying. Does anyone else have a problem w/ the histamines in throughout their bodies getting so bad that it feels you will burst from the pressure?
        This way for me the last 2 days. Stress exacerbates the pain. Did some Christmas shopping knowing I cannot compete w/ others. A $20 gift certificate does not buy much of anything these days either.
        This grandma can no longer work and turning 65 has been a nightmare. Turned my world into even more difficult. SS keeps overpaying me and of course I keep paying them back.
        Whine, whine, whine. I have heard it said that stress kills. Have lost family and friends-better off w/o them as I was always their pack mule and work horse. I get called lazy and they accuse me of not wanting to be their friends because I can not longer do the things I once could.
        Thanks. I like the idea of someone putting on fibro panties. I would not wish this on anyone, but it may be helpful if others could know what fibro really feels like for even 5 minutes-we wear them always and we are fighters.

        • Denise Bault says:

          Amen to that, Em! I stopped trying to compete financially a long time ago…like when I ran out of money. 🙂 Now I think of things that are/were part of my former world and I give those items as presents. Some are cherished heirlooms, some are just things I enjoyed getting on my travels…you know, back when I could REALLY travel. I also write notes to my loved ones filled with memories, thoughts of days gone by, and to let them know how proud of them I am. The weather here in Florida got down in the 40’s-50’s last week and I had gotten my first cold in 12 years of living here. Absolutely wanted to die! That, on top of the
          fibro, was unbearable. It didn’t help that my corn plant (some call it a “fortune plant”) was blooming in the house. Very beautiful, yet an almost overpowering scent. I thought, “Will I EVER get through this and what in the world would happen to me if I had to live in a colder climate?” (I honestly think I would be bedridden.) The good news is: the weather got better, my cold got better, the plant finished blooming and today is a new day! The sun is shining, I went to yoga and went swimming. My point is: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Everything is cyclic in nature and what goes down, must come back up! Remember, the Good Lord helps those who help themselves and he has ALWAYS provided and ALWAYS will!

          • Em says:

            When it comes to gifts being a former artist I do artwork for gifts. It is the best I can do and because everything is all about technology-I do my best. Perhaps one day these things will mean something or they may just get trashed. It is all about the bucks or the Almighty Dollar as I refer to in a materialistic world. I have not ever been one to be materialistic as my father taught me about how the little things in life are what truly count. He blew his brains out over 42 years ago and my mother blamed me. I miss him and it was the things he taught me while growing up on a beautiful farm w/ acres of forest to roam and explore. Loved doing farm work. Loved the farm. Loved my dad.
            Got rather nostalgic and maudlin. I so love Christmas and know that I cannot compete w/ others. I do my best. I have a lot of love to offer. When love comes in the shape of $$-This is not really love.
            Temp here this morning 7 degrees w/ windchill of -7. 40’s and 50’s is a heat wave.
            God is faithful and always will be. I am only responsible for my behavior and not that of others.
            My home is now full of plants of different varieties. I must have some good clean air!
            I feel like I am an embarrassment to my 3 adult children. They are all here locally, but I rarely see them. One grandson w/ some of my DNA. He will be 2 in January and when I do stop by he comes running w/ arms outstretched saying, “Mamaw, mamaw”. The love of a child. I romp on the flow w/ him, play hide and seek, all kinds of things. I know I will be in pain for doing so and it is worth every precious moment. We sing songs-he already can carry a tune so there is some of my DNA.
            HAPPY THOUGHTS!!

    • Jamie J says:

      Have you tried using quality essential oils to help manage your pain? I have terrible migraines, and at my chiropractors’ office they started me using peppermint oil on my head and face to at least reduce the pain. I was skeptical at first but it really worked. I now use a mixture of cinnamon bark oil and peppermint oil combined with melted coconut oil, I let the mixture solidify and I use it instead of an OTC pain cream. I’ve also used essential oils to help reduce my overall infamation and to aid in calming my anxiety. I still have to use medicine to manage my FM, but I feel that I’m overall using less medicine than I used to need. If you do decide to use essential oils to help, be sure to research them first or get help from someone who’s experienced in using them. Good luck!

      • Grace from Australia says:

        Jamie could you tell us the quantities of the cinnamon bark oil and peppermint oil. I love essentials oils and it seems like something I could try. Could ginger oil replace the cinnamon bark oil?

        • Jamie J says:

          I’m sorry. When I made my rub, I just went by smell. I did use probably AT LEAST 16 oz. of coconut oil, and at a minimum 20 or 30 drops of the cinnamon and peppermint (but honestly, it was probably more cinnamon and peppermint than that). To me it smells like a cinnamony candy cane. I would say start off with less of cinnamon and peppermint and if the rub isn’t strong enough, add more until it’s the right strength. You will know what your body can tolerate, and if you’re already using essential oils you probably already have a good idea. I don’t know if ginger oil could be a replacement. I’m getting my first ginger oil this week. But if it’s a warming oil, and I think it is, I don’t know why it couldn’t be substituted. I hope this helps! Good luck!

    • Em says:

      Hi Denise, yes, I am a lucky lady. Wish I could share them w/ you. I see your name frequently and want to send a gentle and heart felt hug. All of this computer stuff is rather new to me-I am learning.
      We can all get together here and this is a good thing. We are not alone.
      Smiles across the miles 🙂

      • Denise Bault says:

        Thanks for the hug Em! We all have bad days and your message arrived to me on one of mine. It was uplifting and I thank you for your kind thoughts. We all need to be needed and today you helped me!

        • Em says:

          Did get through the Christmas shopping early. Paltry though my gifts are in comparison they are from the heart. I am 10 years older than my DIL’s mother who can still work. Dreading the get together for my youngest son’s side of the family the day after Christmas. His wife abhors me because I don’t have wealth. I have a lot of love-not worth much in a materialistic world. If love is a competition then I do not even have the desire to enter the race.

  7. Katrina D says:

    Hi everyone, I’m new to blogging but had fibro for many years, even got to the stage of having to go out in a wheel chair and walking with a stick being literally pushed up slopes and helped out of chairs that WS when I was 30-40+ and sooooo tired, depressed etc etc. Major problem stress so get rid of all you can. Pain killers ruined stomache, liver, colon and allergic to anti depressants. A couple of years ago I began Turmeric (Lumen 1200mg with piperine). It really helped the pain and even the depression. Didn’t think it would, just another thing to try. I a?so find when really bad Diazepan helps sometimes just half a 5mg tab is sufficient. Hope this helps someone else.

    • Em says:

      Same here Katrina-blogging whatever is blogging? Is it anything like bobsledding??
      Sending you hugs and prayers. Some days are better than others.
      Depression can be dastardly. Turmeric has also helped me. Also Omega-3’s. Not 1 who cares much for sardines-they help and fit in my budget. Hope I do not grow gills and fins.
      Blessings 🙂

  8. Em says:

    I was reading where someone has tried the spice turmeric and it helped. I too have found this spice as well as some others far more helpful than meds. We are all different. I have been interested in herbs and spices for years. I raised my children w/ homeopathic remedies. Must be the Native American in my genes. The only medication that is prescribed is the med Nature-throid as I am allergic to the synthetic. I talked earlier on this topic.
    I am a living, breathing barometer. Thankfully I have a sense of humor which gets me through many a hard time-most of the time. Comic relief as laughter is the best medicine and doing what I can for those far worse off than myself-self pity has not ever gotten me any where altho I do slip into this dark place because there are so many things I WANT to do!!
    Being patient w/ myself is the largest obstacle. My brain says “go” and my body says “not going to do it”.
    To all of my fibro friends (yes, we are BFF’s) thank you and I have learned a bit about cyber-soace and virtue.
    Blessings and Peace.

    • Grace from Australia says:

      I also very much appreciate this forum and am encouraged by what others are writing. Many blessings for a wonder Christmas and 2017 despite the troubles that we sometimes experience. I may sound silly but I am still grateful as I say to myself ‘Aleppo!’

      • Denise Bault says:

        Grace, I totally agree. “Aleppo” reminds us all of what we have and that with which we are blessed. Most of us have it better than 90% of the rest of the world! Could you imagine having fibromyalgia and having to deal with a similar situation? May we all be blessed with a happy, healthier and prosperous 2017!

        • Grace from Australia says:

          I migrated from Holland to Aus in 1981 and after a few years of feeling homesick we then moved to the (SE part of)Queensland state. Warmer climate, green (different but like Holland) and I have loved it ever since. It’s an amazing country and with so many options. So keep it on your bucket list and keep dreaming. 🙂

          • Em says:

            Will do so. My real dreams seem to have been shattered by a 9 year old who lies a lot. Cold and nasty here today. Her mother needed things from store and I did get out to get things for her. Was happy to do so only to have her 9 year old daughter slam-dunk me and then lie about it. Not the 1st time. I do not like to refer to her as my step-grand daughter. Her grammy is 10 years younger than I and can still work.
            Let it go and let her lie. Sad to think a 9 year old can push my buttons. I abhor lying and it is not the 1st time. A warmer climate would be nice.
            Reality-I am the family reject whom has grown weary of trying to please a 9 yr old or her mother. I have heard of others that have had problems like this-I just do not play the game well.
            they do not understand fibro and think I am making things up.

          • Grace from Australia says:

            Feeling for you Em and hoping that one day you can get away from that situation and that little manipulator. Try not to fight battles you cannot win anyway.

  9. Em says:

    Christmas all alone again. Suppose it takes being rich to have happiness, love and acceptance. No family get together tomorrow either. Just as well. Despondency has laid claim again. all the shopping and baking were for naught. I trued again and not even sure why.

      • Em says:

        Thanks Robin. Just struggling w/ a lot of things and a D-I-L that I do love, but she runs hot and cold-the martyr type who still believes I am Paranoid Schiz because a family doctor did not recognize a thyroid problem and knows nothing about fibro and does not believe it is a real health problem. Seeing another doctor for sure!!! Referred me to a apain specialist and he is so kind and gentle. I am not into drugs and use homeopathic ways, but when the stress level goes up-think you understand.
        Gentle hugs back to you.

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