RA and dehydration

This may sound daft, but my ra first developed at the end of 1976 which the more ancient among us may remember as having a heatwave that lasted most of the summer. I have always joked that my joints must have melted in the heat.

At the time I was teaching in a science lab - sun beating in the large windows, bunsen burners pumping out extra heat. Teachers among you will know there is barely enough time in a school day to draw breath, never mind take time to get drinks. In those days there was little thought given to the importance of hydration, and I know I did not drink nearly enough. I must have been on the verge of heat exhaustion for weeks, feeling ill and exhausted - all I could do when I got home was to lie in a bath filled with cool water. It took me until about November to cool down.

One thing that invariably makes my symptoms worse is hot humid weather. I find it very hard to cope, but it is certainly true that keeping well hydrated helps.

Has anyone else experienced any connection?

When I read about possible causes for RA, I don't tick any of the boxes for known risk factors. Is there any research out there into ra and dehydration?

Or maybe it's only me that feels my joints melted in the heat!!😉

16 Replies

  • Summer of 1976 is when I got rheumatic fever and being on a farm it was after the harvest work so possibly a connection but possibly not.... we drank loads of water or fresh milk!

    I don't like it too hot but I find the summer more relaxing re my RA so far but that could be because in the winter I suffer with my depression more!

    So does dehydration contribute to my RA .... ????


  • OH the summer of 76 my middle child was born hated the heat at 40 he still does not like the heat sorry went off the subject

  • Summer of 1976 I was 10. It was a hot summer. My family and I spent a week or so watching the Olympics in Montreal. It was really hot in the Stadium, but I have good memories. Don't know why I got off topic and I never heard of dehydration and RA...but who knows?

  • Can't say as I have, but I do remember the heat wave. Wow!

  • I am certain that I"flare" in hot humid weather, this Summer was particularly difficult(UK),not sure that dehydration made it worse but although I made sure I was drinking plenty,it's possible this was a factor.

  • My body hates both extreme heat and extreme cold and is only happy somewhere in the middle, that sort of comfy but not chilly with short sleeves sort of weather. But I do think that something in our lives triggers the onset of RA and I'm sure with me it was the menopause when my hormones went crazy. I didn't have it before although I often had the stiff 'sausage' fingers on waking up in the morning which back in the day being a student, I just put down to too much writing and drawing, - but maybe it was lurking in my system waiting to surface!

    I remember 1976 with much fondness, very very hot and you're quite right, nobody though about hydration then or carried bottles of water around with them back then. Getting a drink generally meant off to the pub!

  • The first thing my first rheumy asked me when I was first diagnosed with RA in 1999 .....was did I have allergies & hayfever as a child......& I did. I seemed to be allergic to something different every month...but strangely never to strawberries which is apparently the fruit that causes most allergy problems.

    My worst problem was caused by drinking water from a plastic bottle or glass. I didn't need collagen injections to get Bee Sting lips.....just put plastic near my mouth.

    It's all the immune system of course ...hence I developed RA.....& I still develop urticaria for no apparent reason in a hot Summer!

  • Yes, I had excema as a child - always worse when I ran a temperature or was stressed and all the woolly clothes we wore did it no good either! I vividly remember scratching my knees to bits during exam time at school, so I guess my immune system was already complaining back then. My Gran on my mother's side had RA in her later years and now I can see what she she was going through, and she had no treatment for it either, poor Nan!

  • Yes I think at least now we have a multitude of pills & potions to help alleviate our symptoms...I remember when I was young people with RA had very deformed joints at quite an early age.

    Funny thing is......I don't get any symptoms in the heat in Italy...nor in Florida!

    My mother always reckoned it was pollution in this country that I breathed in that caused my Problems! I did explain that not breathing nor walking around in a face mask was an option...but she still prattled on. ...maybe she was right after all?

  • I think the wet humid heat is the worst - summers like we are getting now don't do me any favours and I feel a right party pooper when it gets hot and I have to stay indoors. Also I live in one of the worst places for RA - The East Anglia Fens - damp, low lying and humid or just wet most of the year round. Perhaps your Mum was right because I never suffered with sore throats until we moved here and now I often have them and when the tractors are crop spraying or muck spreading we breath it all in!

  • In my fifties I was diagnosed with Late Onset Asthma..I was living & working in SW London...& walking along Piccadilly I could feel my chest tightening.

    As soon as I moved north to the Cotswolds area...it went away...no more inhalers & I can't remember the last time I had a,sinus infection - whereas between 1970 & 1985 I had 10 surgeries to remove polyps..which were technically called benign allergic tumours caused by breathing in WHAT?

    So now I can breathe, but still can't run as my ankles won't let me!

    So maybe my mother did have a point?

  • Hmm, maybe my husband (who is very asthmatic) and I should think about retiring to the Cotswolds, although I fear no more running for me either! :)

    Take care x

  • It is so tempting to try and link together the onset of RD with something that happened to you at the time. The possible triggers that people describe are so very varied that I think most of them must be coincidence.

    The two biggest groups are stressful happenings and infections, but despite much research no specific triggers have yet been found.

    It might be worth collecting all the things that people think might have been the trigger for their RD and see if there is any pattern. This might be something that an organisation like NRAS with its large membership of people with RD could do?

  • Yes, I often think this site must be a great resource for some research -

    The orthotics man I saw many years ago was very interested to hear I had my first symptoms a year or so after getting married, as he had noticed a significant number of his patients developed RD within a year of marriage - he reckoned it was the stress of such a big life event!

    At the time I thought he was talking rubbish as I was at a really happy time in my life and far from stressed by anything apart from the RD!

    But I do think there is something in stress being a trigger.

  • Dehydration = body under stress.

    I asked my Consultant if stress can be a factor and he said yes.

  • I remember the summer of 76, my last year at college & it was glorious. I was diagnosed in the summer of 2008, I don't recall if it was an unusually hot one but in early June I had been creosoting shed panels in preparation for construction & it was a heck of a job mainly because I was up & down & whilst on my haunches, it was really painful! My toes were swollen, my h was convinced it was gout but not me, everything I read about the symptoms didn't fit, though neither did I connect it with RD! Anyway, nearly 4 weeks later when the pain was so bad walking through the market my h had to bring the car to me because the pain in my feet was searing & the tears just streaming I went to see my GP & by July had my diagnosis.

    The humidity was awful for my joints, still is here in the UK but less draining because the accompanying temperature isn't a high. So yes, I think there's something about humidity & painful joints.

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