Keeping Cool in the Heat with MS

Why Do MS Patients Feel Hot?

If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you are likely to experience difficulty in tolerating heat. You will notice that if you become overheated, your symptoms will worsen.(1)

When you have MS, the protective covering of the nerves, known as myelin, get damaged either completely or partially. Due to this, the protective coating does not cover the entire nerve. As a result, when you are exposed to different types of heat, you become more sensitive to it, and your MS symptoms worsen.

While many MS patients do not seem to have any problems with that, others may experience confusion, serious weakness,(2) and even fainting due to prolonged exposure to heat.

So if you find yourself feeling faint or weak due to heat, then you should immediately seek medical assistance before your symptoms worsen any further.

Keeping Cool in the Heat with MS

Here are some tips that will help you stay cool in the heat when you have MS.

Remain Indoors As Much As Possible

As the weather moves towards the warmer months, it is a wise idea to remain indoors in the air conditioning as much as possible to keep the symptoms of MS in control. You should follow the weather forecast and cancel any plans for outdoor outings when you find the mercury rising, or there is high humidity in forecast.

Use Cooling Products

There are many types of cooling products that you can choose from the market. These include cooling vests, bandanas, neck wraps, and many others. These items can also be cold-treated to help you remain cool, especially during outdoor activities and exercise.

You can also use cooling packs to dab on your forehead, wrists, and neck to keep yourself cool.

Remember that even a cloth dipped in cold water than cool your head. Sometimes the simplest of tricks can go a long way in fighting off the heat.

Opt for Cold Beverages

The cooling power of liquids can help you manage the symptoms of MS. After all, everyone knows the benefits of having a cold drink on a hot day. For getting temporary relief till you reach inside, you can try having ice-cold options such as ice water with lemon, popsicles, or even iced tea.

You should also freeze a plastic bottle filled with water at night and take it with you whenever you are going outside. This will enable you to cool down instantly without having to search for a shop or restaurant to buy a cold beverage.

Watch Your Exposure

External heat sources that can worsen MS symptoms behind with hot and humid weather. So if you are doing some outdoor activity such as cutting the lawn, playing tennis, or even hiking in the day time, then the heat can cause your MS symptoms to worsen. You may start feeling weak, tingly, or numb, and you may also find your vision becoming blurry.

You may also find your body temperature may also go up if you exercise or swim in a pool that has hot water. So to be on the safe side, you should only use pools that have a temperature in the low 80s or cooler.

Wear Light Clothes

Clothing choices can make a huge difference in keeping your body temperature low. Always dress in layers so that you can remove layers as and when necessary to lower your body temperature. Wear loose and lightweight, breathable clothing. Cotton, silk, linen, and modal (a type of rayon fabric) are good choices to opt for.

Conclusion

There is no one way to stay cool. As long as it helps you prevent getting overheated, the method can be used. Make sure to take extra precautions so that your symptoms do not worsen. You can also talk to your doctor to get their guidance on how to best treat your MS symptoms.

References:

  1. Marino, F.E., 2009. Heat reactions in multiple sclerosis: an overlooked paradigm in the study of comparative fatigue. International Journal of Hyperthermia, 25(1), pp.34-40.
  2. Krupp, L.B., Alvarez, L.A., LaRocca, N.G. and Scheinberg, L.C., 1988. Fatigue in multiple sclerosis. Archives of neurology, 45(4), pp.435-437.

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