Warm weather impacts thinking for patients with MS

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Warm weather and MS

Warm weather has a negative impact on patients with multiple sclerosis, that researcher say makes it more difficult to think and learn.

The findings come from the American Academy of Neurology. Scientists say some studies have linked warm weather with increased symptoms for MS sufferers.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. Symptoms occur from lesions that damage the myelin sheath that surround and protect nerve fibers.

A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital published August 2010, found "the appearance of lesions on brain scans was two to three times higher in the months of March to August, compared to other months of the year."

The new finding, according to study author Victoria Leavitt, PhD, with the Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey, " " is the first research to show a possible link between warm weather and cognition, or thinking skills, in people with the disease."


For the study researchers compared thinking skills among 40 patients with multiple sclerosis to 40 people without the disease.

They measured learning, memory and the speed at which they processed information and performed brain scans on the patients with MS. Temperatures were recorded on testing days.

The findings showed 70 percent higher scores among MS patients on days when the weather was cooler, compared to warmer days.

The scientists say the findings may have implications that can affect clinical trial outcomes involving multiple sclerosis patients. They also note more research could help physicians guide treatment for patients. Warm weather had no impact on thinking or learning on study participants without MS.

American Academy of Neurology