Tuesday, October 05, 2010 Melis, Community Member, asks

Q: How do I explain this disease?

So, I ave noticed that I am very sensitive to cool/cold air and when I get cold my left hand goes numb/tingly. I mentioned it to my doctor and he said that especially in my living quarters, temperature consistency is important. I told this to my roommate, however, I don't think she gets how important it is because she likes it cold in our apartment (she has been leaving our windows open at night when it gets down to 45 degrees, and not our apartment is a cool 68 degrees. I am beginning to feel the effects in my left hand). How do I explain to her why my left hand going numb is serious and why I need consistency? I don't want it to come off as I'm using my MS as an excuse, but I want her to know that this is a serious issue. Suggestions?
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Answers (4)
Amy Gurowitz, Health Guide
10/ 5/10 1:15pm

Hi Melis,

That can be very hard to deal with. Helping others to understand you is one of the many challenges of MS.I had never heard of cold being problematic with MS symptoms. I checked out the National MS Society site and found this information. (I've also included the link) The site is very helpful in clarifying symptoms of MS. I hope that this will help her to understand the significance of temperature in your home. I hope this helps.

All the best to you,






How can winter weather affect my MS symptoms, and how can I address it?

Weather and the seasons can adversely affect daily living in many people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The greatest number of relapses or flare-ups occurs in the coldest months (January and February) as well as in the warmest months (July and August). This is because both the extreme cold of winter and the extreme heat and humidity of summer can worsen existing symptoms as well as produce new symptoms of MS.

While the effects of heat on MS symptoms are well known, exposure to cold weather resulting in lower body temperatures can produce increased difficulty in walking, decreased strength, spasticity (rigidity or stiffness), numbness, and bladder symptoms. In addition, the icy cold of winter can cause the development or worsening of abnormal touch sensations such as burning or prickling and can also lead to loss of bowel muscle control.

How to keep yourself comfortable in winter:

  • Dress warmly but don't overdress. The slightest rise in body temperature (as little as one degree Fahrenheit) can temporarily worsen some existing symptoms and cause new symptoms to appear in some people with MS. It's not that heat makes MS worse; it's that heat, some medical researchers believe, makes for a less efficient conduction of electrical impulses in nerves in which the myelin covering is destroyed by MS (demyelination).  
  • Don't overheat your house or apartment during the winter months.  
  • Don't let yourself get overheated when you exercise or go about your daily activities.  
  • Do your best to avoid exposure to extreme cold or to sudden sharp cooling.  
  • If cold weather makes your symptoms worse, and you're thinking of moving to a warmer climate, visit the new location first to make sure it is truly beneficial.
Amy Gurowitz, Health Guide
10/ 5/10 5:49pm

Hi Melis,

I posted this question and answer on Facebook and got these three responses I thought you'd be interested in.



  • Michelle Brovitz both temperature extremes affect me, but in different ways. i own CuddlDuds for under clothing and lots of indoor jacket/sweater-type clothes for layering. it's getting near that time down here-62 today! (weren't we just complaining about the heat, last week?) Yeah, 60s are now COLD to me!
    3 hours ago
  • Pamela Van Beenen As Michelle stated my MS reacts to the cold and I do everything she is doing to stay warm In So Ca we have gone from 114 to the 60s in one week...will my MS react to that?
    2 hours ago
  • Anne Laurent That's it. I'm showing this to my husband who sets the thermostat at 62 and calls it toasty. Toasty is 100, dude.
thelambsink, Community Member
10/ 6/10 12:50pm

HEY melis DANIEL here and yes this is a very touchy sub. I can not live with my wife because of this issue. I think that you having M.S is a valid excuse.If your room-mate does not respect your needs then may I suggest a different room-mate. I guess after discussing this prob a few times gets obnocious. You need to take care of your health,,PERIOD. I hope it does not come down to this. GOD BLESS bye for now!!!

Maris B. Mohr, Community Member
10/10/10 8:59am

As honestly and directly as you can. It's a real sickness. I don't tell people I'm sick, rather that I have this sickness and it does very strange things to me. I need what I need in order to function and survive. If people can't deal with me as I am, or living with me as I am with my special needs, then we can part company. Simple as that Cool.


Good luck.


Maris Kiss

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By Melis, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/27/10, First Published: 10/05/10