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How do the seasons affect multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms?

Research shows that multiple sclerosis (MS) activity can increase during spring and summer months.

In one study, researchers compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of 44 people taken from 1991 to 1993 (before medications for relapsing MS were approved) to weather data from the same time period. Participants with untreated MS were between the ages of 25 and 52. Each person had eight weekly scans, then eight scans every other week followed by six monthly check-ups, for an average of 22 scans per person. Weather information included daily temperature, solar radiation, and precipitation measurements for the Boston area.

After one year, 310 new lesions were found in 31 people. Thirteen people had no new lesions during the study. “Our results showed that the appearance of lesions on brain scans was two to three times higher in the months of March to August, compared to other months of the year,” said study author Dominik Meier, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Not only were more lesions found during the spring and summer seasons, our study also found that warmer temperatures and solar radiation were linked to disease activity,” says Meier. No link was found between precipitation and lesions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.