At the end of one of the warmest days in May, I began thinking about why heat is so extremely debilitating for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis. Heat intolerance can be a real drawback for anybody with an autoimmune disease.
Unusually warm days in May are not uncommon in Mediterranean countries. But days, in Scotland, where the temperature gauges top 30° are very rare. This month, in 2017, has been just such a month.
As a starting point, I took a look back at any earlier posts I have on the subject. Strangely enough, I have only written once before on this specific symptom. The post on Uhthoff Symptom looks at what is often considered to be an indicator rather than a symptom.
Uhthoff Symptom describes, fairly accurately, what I feel as soon as the weather turns warm.
I start this post with an investigation of the available information. A very interesting page was found on HealthLine.
Now, I have to assume that the National MS Society is a reputable source of information. They have an interesting take on the problem:
I this heat intolerance a form of Heat Exhaustion?
According to the Mayo Clinic and the definition they give, the heat intolerance that I experience is not heat exhaustion.
One step above heat exhaustion would be heat stroke which is a serious condition. If you experience heat stroke you may be hospitalised.
While you may have been diagnosed with relapse remitting multiple sclerosis, as I was many years ago. You will be aware of the worsening of symptoms during relapse.
You will also be aware of the worsening of symptoms when you are exposed to abnormal heat levels.
The relapse is an exacerbation. The heat can bring about an exacerbation.
The problem is actually a ‘pseudo-exacerbation’ of the symptoms. Increase in temperature as such does not cause any nerve damage.
But what causes this heat sensitivity? Scientists, who initially attributed vascular and hormonal causes, currently propose that the reason is a disturbance or block in the normal physiological nerve conduction mechanisms.
- Wilhelm Uhthoff in 1890 described the peculiar phenomenon of ‘temporary worsening of symptoms with exercise’ in optic neuritis patients. Optic neuritis is a condition affecting the eyes. It is a common problem in many people with MS. Uhthoff noticed that visual symptoms were aggravated when people with MS performed exercise. While he attributed exercise to be the etiology of this problem, it was later realised that any action or condition that increases the core body temperature can worsen the symptoms in MS patients. This is called the Uhthoff’s phenomenon or Uhthoff’s sign.
The Chaps over at Brain Bloggers, explain it far more eloquently than I can, so check out the above link.
I think, and provided it is not too warm, I can still think, that mitochondria play a much bigger part than we give them credit for.
The mitochondria are the cell organelles that provide our energy, our heat. They are the cell components that make us warm-blooded. We require our mitochondria to be working at the optimum level to maintain our correct body temperature.
I can find no evidence that inefficient mitochondria are what makes us heat intolerant. But I often feel that when I have been good and followed the Wahls Protocol diligently, I can handle the heat that little bit better.
I am drawn back to the title I chose to give this post: “Heat Intolerance of Multiple Sclerosis in Scotland” and I would point out that you don’t need to in Scotland to suffer this heat intolerance. Yes, the incidence of multiple sclerosis is quite high in Scotland but I’m certain that has nothing to do with our prevailing climate.
If you believe me to have made any erroneous statements, or if you have any questions then, as always, please leave them in the comments section below. Comments are only open for a few days, do don’t dilly dally.