With winter comes sweaters, family gatherings, warm drinks, and, for many people with chronic illnesses, a shift in the severity of their symptoms. Cold weather, rain, and a change in barometric pressure can exacerbate symptoms for some, while others may actually feel better as the high temperatures of summer start to wind down.
We partnered with CreakyJoints to ask our communities how weather and seasonal changes affect their chronic disease. If you’re also experiencing changes to your symptoms as we move into winter, the responses below will assure you that you’re are not alone — and if you’re reading this because you have a loved one with a chronic disease, perhaps you can take this as inspiration to check in on them the next time it’s rainy and cold.
Here’s what they said:
2. “I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and in the winter I can feel the pressure bearing down on my bones. I can feel the fibers of my muscles and tendons get stiff, and shivering or tensing up from the cold really wear me out more. I pop and I lock up easily. It’s like being an unoiled Tin Man.”
3. “I live in the mountains and most of the folks rely on me as a barometer. They know if I start feeling unwell it will rain or snow up here depending on the season. I have been accurate too many times to count.”
4. “My main problem is summer and heat intolerance. The 40+ degree Aussie days sometimes feel like I’m being cooked alive and are so taxing on my health these days… I always die a little inside when I see people wishing for summer.”
5. “The cold rainy weather is the worst. When a front comes in, my knees and wrists will hurt. My tendinitis in my shoulder flares up. I’m more likely to get a headache or migraine. Cool dry weather is best.”
6. “I have Arnold Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus. It’s not so much the weather that affects me but the barometric pressure. When the barometric pressure is above 28.3, I feel like someone has put cement blocks on the top of my head and it’s crushing down on my neck and shoulders.”
7. “Winter is a personal hell for my rheumatoid arthritis. It takes so much longer just to walk and use my hands on a cold morning then it does on a warm one. Worst days though are when the weather has been warm then unexpectedly goes cold. Feels like a slap in the face to have the weather affect my quality of life so much.”
8. “When the days get shorter and it gets dark earlier, I am more isolated. I can no longer drive after dark because of my multiple sclerosis and it makes it hard to get my kids to their practices and activities.”
9. “I do better as the weather gets cooler. I have myasthenia gravis, and heat makes it hard to breathe and makes me feel like a limp noodle.”
10. “If I’m going to have a flare-up, it’s going to begin in mid-September! I was feeling absolutely fantastic, and then tropical storm Hermine came to the Outer Banks while I was down there, and I haven’t felt good since!”
11. “Cold and damp are just killer for me. My bones just feel like they are breaking with each move I make. High humidity in the hot summer does the same thing. Living in central Indiana is not arthritis-friendly.”
12. “All the forces of nature that react to change the climate feel like a storm out of control in my own body. There is nothing I can do but ride the storm out. I can literally feel every nerve explode.”
13. “My body is a thermometer. When it’s about to be damp, windy, or raining my body warns me most definitely to get bundled up quick!”