The lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer can be a bit of a nightmare when you live with multiple sclerosis. Do warmer temperatures make you feel more tired? Or impact your vision, memory or focus?
Summer does not necessarily make your MS progress, but it can cause an increase in symptoms. Even a slight, half degree elevation in your core body temperature can bring on Uthoff’s Syndrome, a temporary worsening of MS symptoms.
Fortunately, these pseudo-exacerbations generally do not cause permanent damage and often resolve once you cool your body temperature. But who wants to risk it? We don’t, so we have compiled some simple strategies to help you keep your cool this summer!
Wide brim hats, loose, lightweight cotton and linen fabrics are great staples of summer style. Pastel colors are on trend this year, which is wonderful news since lighter colors draw less heat. But the hottest new technology for the fashion minded is the new microfiber cooling bras that allow for more airflow with breathable fabrics, and cooling bra inserts that allow you to tuck your cold pad and go. (Just make sure to read the instructions first, so you are not running around with dripping decoutage!) Cooling vests and other personal cooling products are also a must if you plan to spend time outdoors, and the good news is that they have become a lot more fashionable.
There’s nothing like air conditioning to escape from the heat. And if you require AC for MS-related heat intolerance, it may be tax deductible. Check with your local MS society to see if they have cooling programs or offer financial assistance.
If AC is not an option, drawing your shutters to block out the sunlight can help lower inside temperatures, but open the windows at night to let in the cooler air. Look to create cross breezes when possible, and switch ceiling fans to counterclockwise to draw the hot air upward.
You can also take a page from the past, when ice buckets were commonly placed in front of electric fans to reduce humidity. (Did you see Leonardo DiCaprio in the Great Gatsby?) An updated, and less messy option, is to freeze a small plastic water bottle and place it in front of your fan – when it melts, you can re-freeze and use it again.
If you do find yourself getting overheated (and jumping into a pool, sea, or cool shower is not an option) your body’s pulse points are the most effective locations to place frozen wet towels, ice packs or cold rice socks.
• Inner Wrist
• Inner Elbows
• Back of Knees
• Inner Thighs
You can cool yourself down from the inside as well. Maintaining hydration, chewing on ice cubes and even enjoying a cold dish of gelato can help. But paying attention to your body, and how you feel each day is probably the most important strategy of all.
Warmer weather may require a few modifications, but it doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. Keep in mind, the summer season is short. Savor the longer days, outdoor adventures, backyard BBQ’s and salty seaside as often as you can.
Wishing you the coolest summer yet!
How do you beat the heat? Share with us on our Facebook page!