Ask the Expert – Temperature Dysregulation

Featuring Marie Namey, RN, MSN, MSCN
Mellen Center for MS Treatments & Research, Cleveland, OH

Question: I find that I am often hot, then cold, then hot again. It seems my internal thermostat is messed up and I am well past menopause. Is this caused by MS and why?

Answer: You are not alone in experiencing these symptoms. We often hear from our patients that they feel hot or cold for “no good reason.”

The medical term is “temperature dysregulation,” meaning that it’s difficult for the body to maintain normal temperatures and results in periods of feeling hot or cold when there has been no change in the actual temperature indoors or outdoors. MS can cause temperature dysregulation. This temperature dysregulation can also make MS patients susceptible to extreme hot or cold.

Some individuals with MS may have impairment of autonomic functions, the functions that are not thought about consciously for the systems to work. Autonomic dysfunction develops when the nerves are damaged. Interestingly in a recent “Patients Like Me” survey, 69% of patients with MS who replied said that their temperature dysregulation is severe or moderately severe.

Also to avoid attributing every symptom to MS you should be checked for other causes of your symptoms such as anemia, thyroid disease, poor circulation, malnutrition, diabetes, or vitamin deficiencies. I always recommend regular health checkups and open dialogue with your MS health care provider and primary care provider.

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