Sensitivity to temperature in fibromyalgia. What you should know

Sensitivity to temperature affects many women with fibromyalgia, including myself. You can be cold all the time or hot all the time or alternate between being hot or cold. For more than twenty-five years, I had hot flashes and night sweats. I can not tell you how many times I was totally embarrassed because I could not stop sweating. My hair and clothes would be soaked regardless of the outside temperature. Now I’m freezing all the time.

Research shows that people with fibromyalgia have an inability to adapt to changes in temperature and to a lower pain threshold than hot and cold stimuli. Julie from Counting My Spoons spoke about a study of temperature thresholds for heat and cold in women with fibromyalgia compared to healthy women.

What are the causes of temperature sensitivity

The body temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a section of the brain responsible for the production of hormones. It is considered the link between the nervous system and the endocrine system.

The hypothalamus not only controls body temperature. It controls energy levels, sleep cycle, muscle function, circulation, bowel and defense against infections. 
Most of the symptoms of fibromyalgia seem to be due to imbalances in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). These three glands work together to control hormone levels. Disturbances of the HPA axis seem to be at the heart of fibromyalgia.

Thyroid hormones also play a role in regulating body temperature. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can cause a feeling of warmth in a person, while an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause a sensation of cold.

The thyroid gland is under the control of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland itself is regulated by the hypothalamus. Anything that disrupts the HPA axis also suppresses thyroid function.

Some medicines interfere with the regulation of body temperature. Some medications make you sensitive to heat, increasing the risk of heat stroke and some can reduce body temperature.

Sensitivity to heat

Some heat-sensitive people experience generalized heat sensations that seem to come from their own body. With hot flashes, some people have problems with excessive sweating. Others may only have problems with their hands and feet, including pockets and pain. Hot or hot weather can be unbearable with heat sensitivity.

To avoid overheating:

Keep your environment cool. 
Wear light and flexible clothing that fits freely. Respect light colors in hot weather because dark colors absorb heat. 
Stay hydrated. Make sure you always drink a cold drink (water is better) to drink. 
Take a bath or a cool shower. Sometimes, just soaking your feet in cool water can help cool your body. 
Use cooling products such as cold compresses or fans. Take a small battery-powered fan with you when you go out.
When the weather warms up, heat-sensitive people with fibromyalgia often have flare-ups of symptoms. Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia exposed to high temperatures report increased pain, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. They are also more likely to have heat rashes and heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Signs of heat stroke and immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment can be found on the Mayo Clinic website.

Sensitivity to cold

Cold-sensitive people often feel cold and have trouble warming up. The cold can be everywhere or just between your hands and feet. This symptom is usually aggravated in cold weather, but can occur at any time.

To prevent cold problems:

Keep your environment warm. 
Dress warmly, especially in cold weather. Keep your feet covered, wear socks and slippers. 
Drink hot liquids and eat hot items like soup and oatmeal. 
Take hot baths or showers. 
Keep a blanket handy or use a heating pad or similar microwave products. 
Unusual sensitivity to cold in the hands and feet with color changes in the skin sometimes occurs in people with fibromyalgia. This condition is called Raynaud’s syndrome, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Sensitive to both heat and cold

Some people fluctuate between being hot and being cold. One minute you can sweat with hot flashes and freeze the next one. It can be very difficult. You must be ready for one or the other scenario.

Dress in layers or have extra diapers available. 
For night sweats, wear night clothes that wick away sweat or use temperature control sheets. 
Temperature fluctuations can aggravate your fibromyalgia. It is important to plan ahead. You may need to spend most of your time indoors to better control conditions.


Sensitivity to temperature is a common symptom of fibromyalgia. Most women with fibromyalgia report being extremely sensitive to cold and / or heat. Essentially, temperature sensitivity may be due to hormonal imbalances in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Medications can also interfere with the regulation of body temperature.

For many years, I am hot all the time. The hot and hot weather was unbearable, so I preferred the cold weather. Now it seems that the switch has been returned and I am still cold. Hot flashes stopped when I stopped taking antidepressants and Lyrica. So, either the drugs or the menopause. Now, if I could just warm up.

I would like to hear from you. If you have fibromyalgia, are you sensitive to heat, cold or both? If so, do you have any useful tips? Please leave a comment below to share.


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