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The Best Climate for MS

Last updated: January 2023

Every night, before I go to bed, I like to give one last look at the weather forecast for the rest of the week. I never expected to live a life where weather conditions would have such a huge effect on my life. However, after living with multiple sclerosis for as long as I have, that’s become the case.

While there are many aspects of life that can trigger my symptoms and impact my day-to-day experiences, few influence my quality of life like the climate I live in. With that in mind, I have long pondered: What makes for the best climate for those with MS?

Weather's impact on MS

If you’ve had MS for a bit, you’ve no doubt read plenty about how fluctuating temperatures can impact symptoms. Many people have difficulty when they get overheated, so there will be many that think a nice and cool environment would be best. However, there are also people with MS who have the same difficulty when it gets too cold. For some, it’s not really the temperature, but the humidity that wreaks havoc on them. Others I’ve spoken to seem to notice that big swings in barometric pressure seems to cause them the most problems.

In my case, heat and humidity seem the worst; however, I admit that it is really more about consistency for me: having the same climate conditions for a stretch of time. Quick changes in temperature, humidity, pressure, and even precipitation tend to be when I fare the worst.

What's the difference between weather and climate?

So what do we mean by climate? Well, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate is “the long-term average of temperature, precipitation, and other weather variables at a given location.”1

Basically, it’s the weather that you expect. It may change from season to season and day to day, but generally, you know what to expect throughout the year because the conditions tend to be consistent over a long period of time. You can live in Florida, for example, and expect it not to snow in June because, over many years of recording the weather, we know it just doesn’t do that.

What’s the best climate for MS?

So which climate works best for MS? Well, that’s the thing, while I am sure a large number of folks will jump up and say it must be somewhere cool, I am sure there are many people with MS that would find that absolutely miserable. That’s the thing, MS can vary so much from person to person. I might like someplace cool, but there are many that would have a drastic worsening of their symptoms there. While you are probably hoping for me to give a specific answer, the real answer is that it depends on the person.

Changing weather patterns

Finding the right climate for living with your MS is important, but maybe not as important as understanding and preparing for the climate that you already live in (and let’s face it, how many of us can just up and move to a new climate anyway?).

Knowing your climate and when to expect certain weather conditions, allows you to take necessary precautions. If you are me, that means putting in an extra window AC unit when the warmer months roll around, along with budgeting for a higher electric bill during those months. Understanding the climate we live in makes it easier to prepare and is crucial to our quality of life. That’s why climate change is such a scary concern for people with MS.

With the faster-than-normal changes we are experiencing, those of us with MS are already beginning to experience increasing difficulty in our lives (particularly those of us who have difficulty with heat) because of new and uncertain weather patterns. I know the past couple of summers were way hotter and more humid for longer stretches of time than I had planned on when I moved here.

The best climate for me

While I’ve said that the ideal climate is a highly individual preference for those of us with MS, I will mention my favorite. I am lucky enough to have been able to travel the country some and live in a few areas during my life with MS.

Overall, as far as my health and MS are concerned, I absolutely thrived and had minimal symptoms when living in San Francisco, where the average temps were 54-65F degrees in summer and 48-59F degrees in winter. While there were fluctuations, it rarely got super hot or super cold. There was lots of fog, but I never had to worry about snow or other massive storm-type events. I always look back and feel the consistency I had then was important. Who knows if that was true, but I do know that I rarely had to deal with extreme temperatures unless I left the city.

These days, I live by the beach in Southern Delaware, (which works well because there is an ocean breeze), which is nice, but as I said, the past couple of years have definitely been warmer for longer than when I first moved here.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

Devin

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