When it comes to managing sarcoidosis, rain feels like another obstacle in my day. And Mother Nature has been pouring down plenty of it in the Philadelphia area lately.
Give me a day or two of wet weather and it’s unpleasant, but I manage. But being stuck in a seemingly endless loop of rainy days that outpace the sunny ones takes a toll on my body and mood.
The knees seem to know
Those of us with achy joints that regularly predict the arrival of rain may be surprised to find that a 2017 observational study based on outpatient data from Medicare insurance claims found no correlation between rainfall and outpatient visits for joint or back pain. In fact, the level of joint and back pain during weeks of rainy weather was similar to weeks without rain among the reviewed cases.
Try telling that to my achy knees that do everything under protest on rainy days. To be fair, the study added that, “A relation may still exist, and therefore larger, more detailed data on disease severity and pain would be useful to support the validity of this commonly held belief.”
Rain alone might not the problem, according to some research. A two-year cohort study published in 2014 of 222 people with osteoarthritis of the hip found that a combination of barometric pressure and relative humidity might influence aches, although the study concluded that “the contribution of these weather variables (< or = 1%) to the severity of OA symptoms is not considered to be clinically relevant.”
A third study that reviewed scientific literature explored whether the combination of cold and damp weather is to blame for increasing pain and stiffness in patients who have arthritis. The review concluded that the evidence to support this claim is “weak,” and it called for further studies.
Working my nerves
Despite the inconclusiveness of the previously mentioned studies, the recent deluge of showers hasn’t just meant more stiff, achy joints for me. It’s also increased the burning, stinging pain in my hands and feet from neuropathy, which is worsened by cold weather. Keeping warm on winter days is challenging enough without throwing precipitation into the mix.
Finding comfort in food
The more moisture that falls from the sky, the faster my resolve to eat healthily is demolished. I could easily have served as “Exhibit A” in this 2018 Australian article that reported how feeling cold and spending more time indoors because of rain leads to unhealthy food choices. Red meat, chocolate, and fried foods were among my many unhealthy indulgences in the past week.
Rain, rain, go away
Waking up day after day to gray skies also has put me in a funk. Much like in the summer, I find myself regularly checking weather reports. But now I’m on the lookout for dreaded downpours. On those days, I’m achy, tired, and miserable. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to a recent report by CBS Miami that noted that less exposure to sunlight results in the body producing less serotonin (which makes us feel good) and more melatonin (which makes us feel sleepy).
There is one bright side of wading through so many rainy days this winter: At least it’s not snow.
Note: Sarcoidosis News 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 Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.
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