Does Weather Make RA Worse?
Although there’s not a lot of scientific evidence that the weather impacts RA symptoms, if you talk to many people with RA, myself included, they will most likely tell you that the weather does have an impact on them.
The phrase “bone-chilling cold” has a whole new meaning when you live with RA.
For me, the cold of winter impacts my stiffness significantly. My mobility becomes more limited than usual, and most of my joints hurt. I also often have trouble breathing in the winter, due to my lupus, so I usually wear a scarf over my face. In the heat of summer, the humidity not only messes with my head, but my joints tend to swell and hurt, although it feels different from the way my joints hurt in the winter, if that makes sense. In the summer, the heat and the humidity cause my joints to swell in a very painful way. I have far less joint swelling in the winter time.
The other thing for me weather-wise that impacts my RA symptoms is changes in barometric pressure. A lot of us can predict the weather based on how our joints feel, and if you’re like me, you can also predict the weather because you get a strange feeling in your head. I often feel lightheaded and have a low-grade headache that’s annoying, but not paralyzing.
Sometimes I’ll feel bad for a day and not even realize until after that we’ve had rain or a low-pressure system blow through. Then it all makes sense. And this is probably one of the more frustrating components of RA. Living with a disease that is, literally, as unpredictable as the weather, is, well, unpredictable.
And this doesn’t even take into account the fact that some of the medications we take for our RA, like steroids, can impact our body temperature, which can make dealing with the weather even worse. I know that as of late, I sweat life a 400-pound man most of the time, regardless of whether it is hot or cold outside, which means when it’s hot, the heat affects me even more. It has to be my meds because I haven’t always been this way.
The Arthritis Foundation has a cool tool you can use to predict your level of joint pain based on your local weather. Whether those of us with RA actually need that, since we have our own built-in meteorologist, remains to be seen. But meteorology is such an inexact science. Maybe some of us with RA should become weather reporters. We might be better at predicting those who have supposedly studied it!
I’ve heard some people say that living in a climate that is relatively stable temperature-wise and has dry heat is the ideal environment for RA. I can say, the few times I have been to Southern California and it has been 75 degrees and sunny the whole time, I feel better. But who wouldn’t? We all don’t have the luxury to move to Southern California. So whether I’m in my old home in Michigan or my new home in New York, I’ll be dealing with the deep freeze of the winter and the heat wave of the summer. And so will my RA.
Do you have any tips for making it easier to cope with RA symptoms caused by the weather?** See More Helpful Articles:**
Leslie wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).