Neurological problems can stem from a variety of causes, including after a virus such as Covid-19. Symptom profiles can be wide-ranging and changeable, whilst flare-ups might be triggered by hotter or colder weather. This is common, and there are ways to help.
If you’ve observed that temperature affects your symptoms, you’re not alone if this brings you anxiety about what the rest of the winter may bring. This might be particularly so if you’re concerned about your energy bill, or already facing difficulties. Here are some tips for making sure you’re getting all the support you can, plus ideas for coping with the cold.
Which neurological problems can be affected by cold temperatures?
Neurological symptoms are often the result of peripheral neuropathy (PN): damage, or disease of, nerves in the body’s extremities (eg. hands, feet, arms). This usually involves numbness, tingling, or a pins and needles sensation in the areas affected, although symptoms can vary by the type of PN that you have. The condition can be the result of:
Injury (including carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis).
Conditions such as diabetes, or Reynaud’s syndrome.
Hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid problems.
Deficiencies caused by alcoholism, nutritional imbalances, toxin exposure, or some medication effects.
Autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Certain cancers (as well as cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy).
Some kidney or liver disorders.
Some viruses (such as varicella-zoster — which causes chickenpox and shingles — HIV, herpes simplex, Covid-19, and Lyme’s disease).
Rarely, certain genetic conditions.
This factsheet explains more about how each of these can cause peripheral neuropathy.
Other neurological problems that can be affected by the cold include MS (multiple sclerosis), epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and Functional Neurological Disorder. Due to Long Covid being a new condition, there haven’t yet been many cold seasons for individuals or researchers to observe how the weather affects it.
Covid may, like other viruses, cause inflammation within the body that can aggravate a condition you already had (before having Covid). This may trigger flare-ups, or affect insulin resistance if you’re diabetic. This can be very challenging, although having awareness of your usual symptoms and their triggers can be useful. For example, you could try keeping a diary to help you spot patterns, and to identify things that help.