While there is nothing wrong with seasons changing, the truth is, for those living neuropathy, the challenge to avoid any discomfort and still have fun and stay healthy through these seasonal changes is a stressful reality.
It is important however that through thse seasons, we maintain a healthy lifestyle which could mean, a call for a change in routine, a revamped diet, or a new exercise regime that suits the weather.
Over the years as a Physician, I have studied these patterns and have also treated thousands of neuropathy patients. Before you miss out on the happenings in each season, consider these recommendations to maintain a healthy, fun and pain-free season.
Dealing with Neuropathy in Summer
It’s also essential to stay hydrated throughout the day to reduce inflammation and avoid triggering pain receptors. Aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces, mainly water each 24 hours (so if you are 150 lbs. that’s 75 oz) unless you have heart failure or other medical issues your physician is caring for.
Exercise Regularly to Boost Body Metabolism
Research has shown that strengthening exercises for peripheral neuropathy significantly improves muscle strength in people with PN. In addition, when exercise is done regularly, it may reduce neuropathic pain and can help control blood sugar levels. However, ensure to do so in the right footwear and with a caregiver if necessary.
A 15-20 minutes' walk daily is a great place to start. Also consult with our physicians and physical therapists who can help with the right exercise recommendation for you.
Spend More Time Outdoors
It is no doubt that the state of our body is affected by the progressive reduction of the hours of light, a change that also impacts our mood, making us susceptible to mild states of melancholy and anxiety. Getting outside as much as you can, staying as fit and active as possible will help lighten your mood and often helps reduce pain and numbness.
Keep your Home at Even Temperature
The discomfort caused by humidity and summer heat may be exacerbated in those suffering from peripheral neuropathy symptoms. But cold can be even worse. Whatever you do, over dress both indoors and out rather than getting chilled which can aggravate you for days!
Dealing with Neuropathy in the Cold Season
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms include a slowing of blood flow to nerve endings, resulting in numbness and tingling. Colder temperatures may make it difficult for patients to access their body’s response to the climate. Therefore, neuropathic pains tend to increase when cooler weather approaches. Here are a few tips for dealing with neuropathy in cold season:
As it is during the summer, exercising is very beneficial to proper blood circulation in a neuropathy patient. Colder temperatures cause muscles to tighten and spasm, which can cause the soft tissue surrounding joints to expand, causing a restriction and increasing pain.
Walking, restorative yoga, swimming, and weight training can help warm up the muscles and promote circulation, preventing the neuropathy pain that is often associated with colder temperatures.
Wear Warm Clothing
Keeping warm in cold weather is an efficient way to alleviate neuropathy pain. So, when it is time to go outside, make sure you are properly prepared to keep heat from escaping your body. Wear protective clothes on your hands, feet and head especially. Warm clothing, such as a coat, hat, scarf, and socks will promote healthy blood flow and keep you warm for longer hours.
Popular stimulants like coffee and tea can cause blood vessels to constrict, limiting blood flow when consumed to excess and increasing pain. Other stimulants, such as nicotine found in cigarettes, have been linked to increased neuropathy pain due to decreased blood flow.
Reduce Exposure to Extreme Conditions
Cold weather presents unique challenges for people suffering from neuropathy. Prolonged cold exposure causes the body to slow blood circulation to the hands and feet in an attempt to maintain the body's core temperature. Reduced blood flow can exacerbate neuropathy symptoms and potentially cause additional damage to already damaged peripheral nerves. Again, this is why overdressing indoors and out can be so helpful!
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