Cold Weather and Parkinson’s Symptoms | MyParkinsonsTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyParkinsonsTeam
Powered By

Cold Weather and Parkinson’s Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Amit M. Shelat, D.O.
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Updated on January 11, 2022

There are many different symptoms of Parkinson’s, and everyone experiences the disease differently. That said, many people diagnosed with the movement disorder find that their symptoms — such as tremors, stiffness, and temperature regulation — worsen when it is cold outside.

This article covers what you need to know about the effects of cold weather on a person’s Parkinson’s symptoms. If you notice any changes in your symptoms with the weather, first and foremost, talk to your doctor. A health care provider will work with you to find the best ways of managing cold-weather-related symptoms and help you maintain your quality of life all year long — even during the winter months.

How Can Cold Weather Affect Parkinson’s Symptoms?

Cold temperatures can affect people with Parkinson’s disease in several ways. Some people find that they experience more pain when the weather becomes chilly. As one MyParkinsonsTeam member shared about their partner, “This cold weather in Michigan is really hard on him. His Parkinson’s seems not to hurt him so bad in the warm weather.”

Others with Parkinson’s find that they struggle with joints that are stiffer than usual when it is cold outside. One member explained, “I woke up this A.M. with my hand (knuckles and fingers) frozen closed and stiff. I managed to get all my fingers straight and functioning again and was able then, and only then, to begin my work for the day. I am accustomed to this routine now and have come to dread extremely cold days.” Another member shared that cold-related stiffness can worsen their partner’s pain: “My husband has a hard time with the cold weather because he stiffens up his shoulder and neck, and then he experiences a lot of pain.”

Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s find that their tremors are worse when it’s cold outside. One member said, “The cold winter does a number on my tremoring.” Another explained, “I shake more in the cold. After only a minute or two, my right hand starts dancing like it’s at a party.”

Though it may not come as a surprise, people who experience problems regulating their body temperature because of Parkinson’s may find that these issues worsen when the weather is cold. One member put it this way: “It feels like having a fever constantly. I’m warm for five minutes, then cold, then warm.” Another said, “This winter, I was freezing cold and could not get warm.”

Why Does Cold Weather Affect Parkinson’s Symptoms?

There are several reasons why cold weather impacts people with Parkinson’s. One of the nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease involves problems regulating the autonomic nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system controls many functions, including body temperature regulation.

Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s have autonomic dysfunction, which makes them sweat too much or not enough. Autonomic dysfunction can cause problems in cold weather because your body may not be able to keep you warm enough. People with Parkinson’s may feel colder than those around them when the temperature drops, which can lead to symptoms like uncontrolled shivering. Some find that the shivering triggers an increase in their tremors, which makes them shake even more.

Some medications for Parkinson’s may also bring on greater temperature sensitivity or problems with sweating. These side effects may be worse when you are first starting a new medication or when tapering off a medication.

Managing Parkinson’s Symptoms in Cold Weather

You can take steps to mitigate — or eliminate — the negative effects that cold weather can have on your body. As always, ask your neurologist or another health care provider for medical advice when you are dealing with symptoms from medical conditions like Parkinson’s.

Stay Warm

Do whatever it takes to keep yourself warm. In the harsh winter months, that may mean remaining indoors. It’s usually possible to get groceries, medications, and more delivered straight to your door. If you can’t get deliveries, there may be people in your life who would be willing to get necessities for you so you don’t have to go into the cold.

Make sure your house is warm enough, too. If you need to, turn up the heat. If that’s not an option, invest in space heaters to heat the room where you spend most of your time during the day and another to heat your bedroom at night.

Heating tactics have helped MyParkinsonTeam members stay comfortable in cold months. One caregiver shared their tips for keeping warm: “I have an electric blanket for my mom’s bed and an electric throw-size blanket for when she is on the computer or eating dinner.”

Dress for Warmth

Wearing the right clothing can be key to managing body temperature. Here are a few ways that you can use your clothing for maximum warmth.

Layer Up

Wear several thinner layers rather than one thicker one. Layering allows you to add or remove layers of clothing as needed — especially if you find yourself feeling chilly or overheated. As one member explained, “My mother dresses in layers when she is cold and then peels them off as she warms up.”

Keep Covered

Cover your hands, feet, and head when you are sleeping — especially if you tend to get cold at night or to wake up cold in the morning. That means wear a hat, mittens, and socks if it helps. And keep extra blankets nearby. With those within reach, if you suddenly get cold, you can pull one on right away.

Wear the Right Materials

Focus on wearing natural fibers, like wool or cotton, whenever you can. Synthetic fibers like fleece can also help you stay warm but may not do so as well as the natural ones.

Keep Moving

The more you move your body, the easier it will be for you to stay warm. You don’t have to exercise (though you can!), especially if you are dealing with pain and other symptoms of Parkinson’s. Just moving around your house, such as tidying up, can get your blood flowing and help your body feel warmer again.

Choose Warm Things to Eat and Drink

If you’re too cold, think about heating your body from the inside out. Warm drinks like tea and coffee can help you feel warmer, as can soups and stews. In fact, any warm food may help you feel warmer after you eat it. One drink to avoid: alcohol, which makes it easier for you to lose heat from your body.

Stay Warm on the Go

Make sure you are ready to deal with a cold car when you go out. Wearing extra layers, keeping blankets in your vehicle, and planning ahead can help you stay warm, no matter where you go. Whenever possible, avoid using public transportation as it usually involves waiting while outside, where you are exposed to the elements.

Treat Parkinson’s

Some people find that the cold does not affect them as badly when they are on medications, such as levodopa, to treat their Parkinson’s. However, at least one study found that certain Parkinson's medications were not particularly effective at regulating temperature. Talk to your doctor about finding the right medication and treatments to manage your Parkinson’s symptoms, including fluctuations in body temperature.

Find Your Parkinson’s Team Today

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may find yourself wanting to talk to others who understand. MyParkinsonsTeam is the social network for people with Parkinson's and their loved ones. More than 90,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experiences with others who understand life with Parkinson’s.

How does the cold weather affect your Parkinson’s symptoms? What do you do to manage them? Share your experience and tips in the comments below or by posting on your Activities page.

Updated on January 11, 2022
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about Parkinson's disease sent to your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Amit M. Shelat, D.O. is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the American College of Physicians. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

Related Articles

People with Parkinson’s disease may develop a symptom called hypomimia, which is a loss or reduct...

Facial Masking (Hypomimia) With Parkinson’s Disease: Causes and Management

People with Parkinson’s disease may develop a symptom called hypomimia, which is a loss or reduct...
People with Parkinson’s disease may experience hallucinations and delusions caused by progression...

What Causes Hallucinations and Delusions in Parkinson’s?

People with Parkinson’s disease may experience hallucinations and delusions caused by progression...
Persecutory delusions are the most common type of delusion in people with Parkinson’s disease psy...

What Are Persecutory Delusions? Examples and How To Help

Persecutory delusions are the most common type of delusion in people with Parkinson’s disease psy...
What is real, and how can you be sure? For someone living with Parkinson’s, it can be difficult ...

Delusions vs. Hallucinations: 9 Differences To Recognize in Parkinson’s

What is real, and how can you be sure? For someone living with Parkinson’s, it can be difficult ...
If you are living with Parkinson’s disease, you might often feel run-down, out of energy, or eve...

Managing Fatigue and Parkinson’s Disease: 6 Tips for More Energy

If you are living with Parkinson’s disease, you might often feel run-down, out of energy, or eve...
Parkinson’s disease (PD) often comes on gradually with early signs and symptoms. Physical and me...

Early Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease (PD) often comes on gradually with early signs and symptoms. Physical and me...

Recent Articles

Welcome to MyParkinsonsTeam — the place to connect with others living with Parkinson's disease. ...

Getting Started on MyParkinsonsTeam (VIDEO)

Welcome to MyParkinsonsTeam — the place to connect with others living with Parkinson's disease. ...
It’s natural to be afraid of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the risks of gett...

Do COVID-19 Vaccines Worsen Parkinson’s Symptoms? What We Currently Know

It’s natural to be afraid of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the risks of gett...
In a survey of caregivers on MyParkinsonsTeam, 88 percent reported feeling stressed watching thei...

Survey Results: Stresses and Rewards of Parkinson’s Caregiving

In a survey of caregivers on MyParkinsonsTeam, 88 percent reported feeling stressed watching thei...
Your body needs just the right balance of vitamins and minerals to function properly. When you’re...

Magnesium and Parkinson’s Disease: Are Supplements Beneficial?

Your body needs just the right balance of vitamins and minerals to function properly. When you’re...
Both Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are progressive neurodegenerative disorders tha...

Parkinson’s vs. Huntington’s Disease: What’s the Difference?

Both Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease are progressive neurodegenerative disorders tha...
Yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles — what do these foods have in common? They’re all fermented p...

Probiotics and Parkinson’s Disease: What You Need To Know

Yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles — what do these foods have in common? They’re all fermented p...
MyParkinsonsTeam My Parkinson's disease Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close