Heat sensitivity in patients with MS

I wanted to just touch on the subject of heat sensitivity in multiple sclerosis patients. MS patients are more sensitive to heat/ temperature as compared to non MS patients. It has been seen they do “poorly” whenever their body temperature is elevated. So when MS patients have fever, they become weaker and their neurological deficits become more prominent e.g. more blurring of vision, diplopia, ataxia and cerebellar dysfunction. Thus infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections (UTI) warrant to be aggressively treated with anti-pyretics and antibiotics.

Why does this occur? Well the thinking is that as the temperature of the body increases, it promotes cross-talk among the demyelinated axons and also leads to conduction blocks (block in the conduction of impulses in the neurons). This exacerbates preexisting neurological deficits.

So it follows that MS patients do better in colder environments as compared to warmer places.  Better in winter as compared to the heat of summer. Keeping the ambient temperature of your house a few degrees below “normal” may be worthwhile though there is no scientific data to back this claim.


Nitin Sethi, MD

2 thoughts on “Heat sensitivity in patients with MS

  1. Interestingly, there is an unusual high number of people in my town with MS. I live in cool Colorado. Now I understand why they located here. However, people who’ve lived here thier whole lives are also diagnosed with MS. Is this a contagious, slow growing virus? Thanks for your invaluable website!

    1. Dear Sarah,
      thank you for writing in to me at https://braindiseases.wordpress.com. I am glad you found the website useful. There are ongoing studies looking at the link between a viral infection and multiple sclerosis. The viruses which are getting close attention include Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)-a member of the herpesvirus family, measles virus and so forth.

      Nitin Sethi, MD

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