Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neurology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sensitivity to heat in MS patients: a factor strongly influencing symptomology - an explorative survey

Gullvi Flensner12*, Anna-Christina Ek1, Olle Söderhamn23 and Anne-Marie Landtblom456

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine and Health, Division of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden

2 Department of Nursing, Health and Culture, University West, SE-461 86 Trollhättan, Sweden

3 Centre for Caring Research-Southern Norway, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, PO Box 509, NO-4898 Grimstad, Norway

4 Division of Neuroscience, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden

5 Neurology Clinic, University Hospital, SE-581 85 Linköping, Sweden

6 Neurology Unit, General Hospital, SE-591 85 Motala, Sweden

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neurology 2011, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-27

Published: 25 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Many individuals diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are sensitive to increased body temperature, which has been recognized as correlating with the symptom of fatigue. The need to explore this association has been highlighted. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence of heat sensitivity and its relations to disease course, disability, common MS-related symptoms and ongoing immunosuppressive treatments among individuals 65 years of age or younger diagnosed with MS.

Methods

A cross-sectional designed survey was undertaken. A questionnaire was sent to MS-patients with an Expanded Disability Status Score (EDSS) in the interval of 0-6.5 and who were between 20 and 65 years of age, living in an eastern region of Sweden (n = 334). Besides occurrence of heat sensitivity (Yes/No) and corresponding questions, the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), the MS-related symptom checklist and the Perceived Deficit Questionnaire (PDQ) were included. Data were analysed in relation to data level using Chi-square, Mann Whitney U-test, and Student's t-test. Pearson's and Spearman's correlations were calculated. In the logistic regression analyses (enter) dichotomized MS-symptoms were used as dependent variables, and EDSS, disease-course, time since onset, heat-sensitivity, age and sex (female/male) were independent variables. In the linear regression analyses, enter, mean FSS and summarized PDQ were entered as dependent variables and EDSS, disease-course, time since onset, heat sensitivity, age and sex (female/male) were independent variables.

Results

Of the responding patients (n = 256), 58% reported heat sensitivity. The regression analyses revealed heat sensitivity as a significant factor relating not only to fatigue (p < 0.001), but also to several other common MS symptoms such as pain (p < 0.001), concentration difficulties (p < 0.001), and urination urgency (p = 0.009).

Conclusions

Heat sensitivity in MS patients is a key symptom that is highly correlated with disabling symptoms such as fatigue, pain, concentration difficulty and urination urgency.