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Does MS stop sweat?

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  • Does MS stop sweat?

    I have primary progressive MS, more or less arrested with Rebif. I can still walk, though with difficulty. In the heat I can barely walk at all. When I get out of the heat, I'm back to my previous state.

    I've noticed recently one possible reason for my difficulty with heat -- I don't seem to sweat normally. Pre-diagnosis I would sweat like a pig, even in an air-conditioned gym. Does MS ever affect sweat glands?

    Dry in Hong Kong

  • #2
    Probably two things going on here.

    The first is that it is common (although not always) for a person with MS to not sweat normally, which can lead to excessive body heat, and even heat stroke. This is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system nerves within the spinal cord primarily.

    The second is related. It is called Uthoff's Syndrome. This is where the weakness and other MS symptoms get suddenly worse, or new symptoms appear due to body overheating. It can be caused by environmental temperatures, have too many blankets or heavy coats on, or even by fever. In olden times MS was sometimes diagnosed by a "hot bath test" where the person was put into a hot tub of water, and if their symptoms got a lot worse it was used to help make the diagnosis of MS.

    In additon, many people with MS take anticholenergic medications like Ditropan or Detrol for their bladder, and these meds can also interfere with normal body heat regulation, including not allowing sweating to occur.

    Try to stay in cool environments, use fans and air conditioning, dampen your skin (wet shirt or spray water on your skin) and take precautions such as the use of cooling vests if you need to be outdoors in the heat (exercising, gardening, etc.).

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.