The October Slide: Chronic Illness Flares in the Fall

When the clock strikes midnight on October 1, it’s as if summer was a distant memory.  Women everywhere are pulling on their mustard or burgundy colored sweaters paired with calf high zip up boots.  Fall is in the air!  Seemingly everyone is holding a cup of steaming hot coffee.  In the world of chronic illness, we have the dreaded October Slide.

WHAT IS THE OCTOBER SLIDE?

Well, it’s not a dance craze, I can tell you that.  

Every year when temperatures begin to dip I can feel my symptoms going from okay to meh and it only seems to worsen as the month goes on.  The October Slide isn’t an official condition, of course.  It refers to the worsening of symptoms those with chronic illness begin to feel as the season changes.


WHAT CAUSES THE OCTOBER SLIDE?

With the changing season, we see a change in temperature, seasonal illnesses, and more.  Here’s some of the causes of the slide you’re experiencing.

  • Barometric pressure.  Barometric pressure changes can be blamed for inflammation, stiff joints and muscle aches.  This change naturally occurs in October as temperatures begin to lower and rain or snow is inevitable.
  • Seasonal allergies.  I love the smells of fall.  Dried leaves, hay, apples, ragweed… wait.  No one loves ragweed, and it’s often the biggest culprit of seasonal allergies in the fall along with mold and dust mites.  Maybe leave the fall smells to the candle makers.
  • Seasonal illnesses.  Cold and flu season are upon us, friends!  Don’t forget about COVID19 also continuing to cause havoc.
  • Darker days means you’re not getting as much Vitamin D as you might need to feel fully functional.
  • Seasonal depression.  I know, but I had to include it.  If I’m being honest with myself, I can feel slightly more “down” during the October month as the warm weather fades away.  That may also mean I’m not exercising as much, and we know logically that people with different dysautonomic illnesses need exercise to help manage symptoms.  Even if it seems impossible.

Exactly what a girl (or guy!) with chronic illness needs, right?  Dead wrong.  All of that sounds awful.


WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT THE OCTOBER SLIDE?

Like the boy scout motto says, “be prepared.”  

Talk to your doctor.  They may recommend medication changes during this season to combat the symptoms of your POTS ( Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), dysautonomia, or other chronic condition. Tell them the experiences you’re having with symptoms and be completely open and honest.  Being an advocate for yourself with your doctor is always a great first step.

Prepare some meals ahead of time.  Take the stress out of cooking when you’re having a bad day where you can’t seem to get off the couch.  Prepare some easy dump meals that can be kept in the freezer.  Pinterest always has great ideas for that!

Stay hydrated.  Something as simple as staying hydrated can be exactly what you need to keep symptoms at bay.  I prefer NormaLyte’s PURE hydration sticks.  They are the perfect ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts).  PURE is free of preservatives, dyes, flavors, and artificial sweeteners.  Plus, it will hydrate you two times better than something like pedialyte.  Have you found yourself in the hospital around Halloween or Thanksgiving every year?  PURE can also reduce the need for supplemental IV Therapy by 33%.


Have you ever been hospitalized for POTS during the fall seasonal changes?  What have you done to prevent the symptoms that occur with the October Slide?  Drop a comment below and tell me your story!