Responding to Weather Changes When Caring for Neuropathy Patients
September 11, 2019 by Ezekiel Lim In Columns, Rumination and Response – a Column by Ezekiel Lim.
Patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy may find that changes in seasons increase discomfort. Colder temperatures require layers of clothing that may bother someone with peripheral neuropathy symptoms. A change to hotter temperatures may cause increased discomfort to someone already experiencing burning sensations due to nerve damage.
Caregivers can take steps to help manage the impact of weather changes on neuropathy patients.
Cold weather and neuropathy
Patients with peripheral neuropathy symptoms experience a slowing of blood flow to nerve endings, causing numbness and tingling. Colder temperatures may make it difficult for patients to measure their bodies’ response to the climate.
My family lives in an area known for weather extremes. When spending time with my mother-in-law during the winter months, it is important for us not only to make sure she has adequate layers of clothing, but also to know when the bundled clothing is causing her discomfort.
Following are some tips for caregivers who are managing the daily care of a loved one during a change to colder weather:
Make sure the patient is wearing warm, comfortable clothing that isn’t too heavy.
Protect the patient’s hands and feet with warm gloves and neuropathy socks.
Massage areas where circulation may be lacking.
Limit the time spent outside in the cold.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake as they may respectively narrow blood cells and cause vitamin deficiency.
Managing symptoms in heat
Hotter temperatures may exacerbate the tingling and burning sensations that neuropathy patients experience. During a transition from cold winters to mild or hot months, caregivers must gauge their loved one’s peripheral symptoms. Just as in winter months, patients may have difficulty measuring their bodily responses to temperature.
For caregivers managing responses to hotter temperatures, following are some tips for ensuring patient comfort:
Keep time spent outside to a minimum and, if needed, stay indoors all day.
Make sure air conditioning is adjusted to a comfortable level to avoid interacting with symptoms of numbness.
Make sure your loved one is adequately fed and hydrated.
Understand the patient’s comfort level and make sure they are wearing lighter layers of clothing.
Try using topical treatments and cooling products when the patient begins to feel too hot.
The pain caused by humidity and summer heat may cause increased discomfort in those suffering from peripheral neuropathy symptoms. By ensuring the patient has a comfortable indoor environment, the change in temperature will not exacerbate chronic pain.
Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.
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