Autoimmune issues, the power of the social network and air moisture

Dec 11, 2023 | Diary | 0 comments

SI Pain: 1/100 | Rib or Shoulder Pain: 0/100 | Concrete Back: 7/100

The ankylosing spondylitis has largely been great, with no SI joint pain and just a few fringe symptoms in the rib and shoulder.

Nothing severe, more just an ‘awareness’ of those body parts than anything else.

I think I’ve had a mild bug for the last few days. I woke up on Friday with a scratchy throat and have had a more runny nose and blocked ear for the last few days than usual.

I’m highlighting this because, touch wood, it seems to be that when I do get a bug these days, my symptoms are WAY less severe since using diet to manage my AS.

Many of my friends have been ill recently with various winter bugs and they seem to have struggled more with symptoms.

I like to think that the dietary and lifestyle interventions are helping to nourish a less overwrought immune system, and as a consequence, I am getting ill less frequently and when I do get ill, the symptoms aren’t quite as bad.

I think there is good evidence for this. Even if it is overblown to some degree, I don’t think that narrative is a harmful mindset to have.

The power of the social network

It was quite a busy weekend socially and this gave me an enormous lift.

It’s another indicator of how important it is to focus on your social network. I think this is at the very essence of what it is to be human. We are social creatures, even if we don’t always feel it.

(Incidentally, I don’t mean online social networks here. There are online networks which are transformative in many positive ways but I think, in general, the way we are relentlessly conditioned by algorithms to consume content can be very unhealthy).

When I say the social network, I mean connecting with friends and family face-to-face.

Often, with work and other life pressures, we can feel like we are drowning and just want to zone out and sit in front of the television or have quiet time. This is especially the case if, like me, you are more introverted.

But connecting with other humans who you have a close relationship with, even for just a few hours, is so important.

I went to the pub with a friend yesterday and we probably had too many beers. Normally this would have some negative impact on my fringe AS symptoms, but I woke up this morning feeling great. I’m not suggesting in any way that people should drink alcohol when they socialise at all. In fact, if you can avoid it, it’s much better not to.

What I am observing for myself here, though, is that the positives of the social encounter had a really great effect on my AS (despite the alcohol). I was expecting to wake up maybe feeling a bit grumbly and with a few AS niggles, but I didn’t. That positive human connection recharged me.

Moisture content in the air and autoimmune symptoms

I have talked a little about infrared saunas on this blog, and there is good evidence suggesting they can be positive for people with autoimmune diseases, particularly those of us with joint issues.

I’m still running my own test with my new infrared sauna blanket. So far I am having relatively mixed results compared to traditional sauna.

However, I am interested in how infrared could help.

I am also interested in how air moisture affects people with autoimmune diseases, particularly conditions like ankylosing spondylitis.

My research thus far has led me to two possible ideas to explore.

1) To try and ensure that I maintain a dry climate within the home to see if this improves symptoms further, particularly in the winter. It’s very wet and grim in London at the moment. One way to do this is obviously to keep heating on at an even temperature. The other is to use something like a dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers quite literally pull moisture out of the air and has the added benefit of creating more warmth in a room.

We already have one of these, which we use for drying clothes, but I’m going to look at the idea of trying it in the bedroom or downstairs to see if it makes any difference in symptoms.

As I write this, the humidity in our living room and kitchen is 61%. My understanding is that ideally, you want it to be nearer 40 to 50%. So that’s a setting I’m going to try to hit using our dehumidifier. I’ll be interested to see if this affects my cough as well.

The other thing I want to look into is whether infrared heating panels would be beneficial. I know they can be more cost and energy-efficient because they only warm up the objects in the room which they are pointed at. And on top of that, I wonder whether this kind of heat can be beneficial or whether it is a different type of infrared which helps people with AS.

💡 Mini Findings

• Recovering from bugs not as bad since managing autoimmune issues through diet and lifestyle

• Remember to make time to socialise; it has such a positive impact

• Investigate infrared heating

• Investigate using a dehumidifier to manage humidity during winter

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