Temperature Sensitivity in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By , About.com Guide – Created March 21, 2011

The Symptom of Temperature Sensitivity:

Many people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) complain of being cold all the time, or hot all the time, or alternately hot or cold. This symptom is called temperature sensitivity.

We don’t yet know exactly what causes this symptom, but there are several theories, including impaired homeostasis, low blood volume, or impaired blood flow. In FMS, some research shows an inability to adapt to changes in temperature along with a lower pain threshold to both heat and cold stimuli.

A lot of people with FMS and ME/CFS say that the discomfort of temperature sensitivity can exacerbate other symptoms.

Cold Sensitivity:

Cold-sensitive people are often chilled to the bone and have a hard time warming up. The cold can be all over, or just in the hands and feet.

It can be hard for cold-sensitive people to warm up. They may need outside sources of heat, such as electric heating devices or a hot bath.

This symptom is generally worse during cold weather but can strike at any time.

We don’t currently have treatments that are known to relieve cold sensitivity. However, many people are able to avoid this symptom by:

  • Keeping their environment warm
  • Dressing warmly
  • Keeping their feet covered
  • Drinking hot liquid
  • Taking frequent baths or showers

Heat Sensitivity:

Some heat-sensitive people describe all-over heat sensations that seem to emanate from inside. Others may only have problems in their hands and/or feet, possibly along with puffiness and an ache, while some may get both types.

It can be hard to cool off and may require ice packs, cooling products, and soaking in cold water.

Hot weather can exacerbate this symptom, but it can also occur at any time.

As with cold sensitivity, we don’t have treatments for this and instead rely mostly on lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Keeping the environment cool
  • Avoiding heavy clothing
  • Drinking cold liquids
  • Avoiding overly hot baths or showers
  • 

Dual Temperature Sensitivity:

People who are sensitive to both heat and cold face special challenges. How do you set your thermostat when you could freeze or overheat at any time?

Some people find that dressing in layers, or having extra layers available, can be helpful. It also pays to play close attention to your temperature so that you can take steps to warm up or cool down before it becomes problematic.

Source:

Smith BW, et al. Pain. 2008 Dec;140(3):420-8. Habituation and sensitization to heat and cold pain in women with fibromyalgia and healthy controls.

About Michelle Arbore

I am 36 years old, married for 8 years and have an almost 3 year old, Michael Richard. We also have two cats (Anibel & Mama). I own my own social media management and coaching business that allows me to work from home. I like to read, listen to music, take photos, learn new things, shop, watch TV and spend time with family and friends. I also suffer from Fibromyalgia. I have suffered from this disease for over 15 years now. I started my blog so I could have a place to vent about what I am feeling. It has turned into a place where I post information about this disease, talk about books that I am reading about Fibro, and getting to meet other people who suffer from this.
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7 Responses to Temperature Sensitivity in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  1. Jo-Anne Henderson says:

    Hi all- I have been diagnosed with FMS & CFS for 3 yrs and it has turned my world upside down I was a physio for a football club and ran clinics too as well as other things I went at life 100 MPH Like all of us we have bad days bearable days and days where we want to give up I will not let Fms/cfs dictate to me and I will never give in …what I do do though is on the really bad days I meditate (however I can) sometimes its difficult to sit upright or in a chair so I lay down in my bed with lots of pillows and drift away I use affirmations and a singing bowl and for me it helps put my pain and discomfort in place Im always willing to try different ways to help my illness so love pages and support groups like this ..blessings and love to you all Jo x

  2. KELLY SMITH says:

    I TOO HAVE FIBRO. AND IT HAS HAD ME FOR 17 YRS. U TAKE THE GOOD & RUN WITH IT…THERE ARE THOSE DAYS THOUGH THAT REALLY PUT ME TO THE TEST. EVERYDAY WHEN I WAKE UP I LOOK AROUND ME AND NAME @ LEAST 5 THINGS I AM THANKFUL FOR…MY DOGS AND MY DR. TOP THE LIST….MY LOWER CASE P IS BROKEN

  3. Daily says:

    I have CFS and I suffer from cold sensitivity. I have mitigated the fatigue with Apple Cider Vinegar and baking soda but still have the sensitivity to cold. Suggestions?

  4. malihe alizadeh says:

    I HAVE F.M.S SINCE 1987 THAT I WAS DIAGNOSED . I HAVE ALL THE SYMPTOMS AND THEN SOME. BUT THIS FREEZING AND SOMETIMES HOT HAS PRAYZED MY LIFE. EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMER I WEAR SWEATERS AND WITER ROBS . AND PUT ON A SHIRT UNDER NEATH IT ALL. AND ON TOP I PUT A THROW . WEAR TOW PAIRS OF SUCKS AND WITER PJAMA. BUT STILL FREEZ , EVENTHOUGH THE TEMPUTURE IS ON 71 , I PUT IT HIGHIER BUT MY SON GETS TOO HOI. EVEN THE FLOW OF THE HEAT PUMP AIR BURNS THE SKIN OF MY FACE. I FEEL I AM BURRIED IN THE ICE ALL THE TIME. AND IF I AM IN OVE LIKE WHEN I USED TO WORK I SWEAT WHILE I AM FREEZING . I HAD TO TAKE CHANGE OF CLOTHE WITH ME, TO CHANEG AT WORK. THAT,S WHY I CANT WORK , BECAUSE OF AIR CONDETIONING IN SUMMER AND HEAT PUMPS AIR IN WINTER. NOT THAT OTHER SYMPTOMS OF F.M.S WOULD LET ME TO WORK, THE MAJOR DEPRESSION, CHORONIC FATIGUE , MUSCLE PAIN, BRAIN FOG THAT MADE ME LOOK STUPID IN THE OTHER PEOPLE,S OPENION. THEY CONSTANTLY LAUGHED AT ME AT WORK , BECAUSE OF FORGETTING SMALKL THINGS OR THINGS THAT I DID RARELY .UFORTUNATLY IF THERE ARE DOCTORS WHO CAN TREAT IT. IT IS SO EXPENSIVE THAT I CANT EVEN THINK ABOUT. I AM ON DISABILITY . MY WHOLE
    HAS PASSED MY YOUTH IS GONE . THIS ILLNESS HAS STRIP ME OF ALL THINGS IN LIFE . I HAD TO EVEN GIVE UP MY SON AT 10 YEARS OF AGE TO HIS FATHER , BECAUSE I COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF HIM. I NEVER GO OUT, EXCET EVERY TWO WEEKS FOR GROCERY.AND EVEN FOR THAT I HAVE FORCE MYSELF.
    AND STILL EVEN MY OWN FAMILY DONT UNDERSTAN IT. I DONT HAVE ANY MOTIVATION FOR ANY THING. HAVING CANCER IS EASIER THAN F.M.S. AT LEAST PEOPLE WOULD UNDERSTAN IT. AND THEY WOULD NOT THINK YOU ARE LAZY .
    I WISHED IT WOULD KILL ME. I AM JUST TIERED OF LIFE. I NOT ONLY DONT ENJOY THIS LIFE , I DONT HAVE ENERGY TO FOLLOW MY SPIRITUALL LIFE.
    THIS MIGHT BE MY KARMA FOR THIS LIFE. I JUST HAVE TO LEAVE IT TO GOD.

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