Beating the Heat This Summer

The summer season is officially in full swing and that means much warmer temperatures. If you are having more problems with your MS during these warmer months, you’re not alone. An estimated 60% to 80% of people living with MS are sensitive to increased temperatures. People typically describe an increase in their usual symptoms or new symptoms. 

An overheated nervous system does not work as well as one that remains at normal temperature. When a person’s body temperature rises, it impairs the ability of the demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.

While we can’t control the weather, there are many techniques and tools that can help you control the effects of warm weather and other situations that increase core body temperature. CLICK HERE for some tips and tools.

Avoid Going Out During the Warmest Time of the Day
Schedule activities, whenever possible, during cooler times of day: early morning or evening. Early mornings tend to work better for people with MS. The body naturally warms as the day progresses.

Wear Light Clothing
Wear light colors, which will absorb less heat from the sun. Loose fitting lightweight cotton clothing will wick away moisture and improve comfort.

Water, water, water.
Cool showers or baths can be very helpful when your body temperature is elevated. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face. Swimming is a great low impact, comfortable exercise when you have access to a pool. Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer and grab one when you’re ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you’ll have a supply of cold water with you.

Cool Your Environment
Air conditioning, evaporative coolers (swamp coolers) and fans can cool the air around you or move the air to enhance your own cooling efforts. If you have an air conditioned car, allow it to cool before driving so you don’t become symptomatic while driving.  If your home has a lower level, organize your home so you spend more time in the cooler areas.

Conserve Energy
Many people living with MS complain of increased fatigue during warm weather. This is an especially important time to pace yourself and lighten your schedule. Again, be sure you avoid dehydration which will increase your fatigue.

Exercise Wisely
Practice moderation and don’t overexert yourself. Scale back when needed; some hot days you may need to decrease your exercise time or walk instead of running. Position an electric fan directly towards you when using an exercise machine. Pre-cooling, post-cooling and cooling during the exercise with cooling wraps may help avoid overheating.

Cooling Garments
Wearing cooling garments can have significant impact helping you to get outside and stay active in the summer heat. There are a number of manufacturers of cooling vests and wraps. These systems are great in all climates and can be worn discreetly under clothing if desired.

Cooling Resources:

The above are commercial makers of cooling equipment listed as a resource for our readers. Listing does not imply an endorsement of these products by Rocky Mountain MS Center.

Other Resources:

Energy Outreach Colorado - the National MS Society Colorado-Wyoming chapter receives a grant each year to provide one-time assistance to people who need help with their energy bills. If your energy costs prevent you from running your air conditioner to stay cool, the EOC grant may be able to assist you. Please contact NMSS at 800-344-4867 for more information about this program. http://www.energyoutreach.org/  

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), offers a Cooling Program. This program offers cooling vests and accessories for adults with multiple sclerosis as well as children diagnosed with pediatric MS. MSAA provides these products at no charge and items are shipped directly to the client. For more information:  http://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/cooling-products/