When summer is here, it’s only natural to want to spend your days outside where the weather is warm. But for those with multiple sclerosis (MS), staying cool in the heat is very important to your health. With MS, the myelin or protective covering of the nerves is damaged, making the person more sensitive to heat. That heat sensitivity can worsen MS symptoms. Prevent that from happening by using some of the tips we found below:
- Cover up
When outside, be sure to wear loose-fitting, light colored, long sleeves and pants to protect your skin from the sun. The loose fit gives your body room to breathe while the lighter colors reflect the heat of the sun better than darker colors. Cotton or linen clothing is best because it breathes better than other fabrics. When possible, be sure to avoid direct sunlight and sit in the shade. You can also limit your time outdoors to evening hours when it tends to be cooler. If you do go out in the sun, don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
- Water is your best friend
Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Water can also come in handy in other ways to cool you down. Take a cool bath or go for a swim in the pool. You can also fill a spray bottle with ice water and mist yourself throughout the day. Another tip is to try wetting a small towel with water and freezing it to be used as a cooling wrap for your neck or wrists.
- Take advantage of air conditioning
When the weather gets too hot to be outside, stay inside in the air conditioning. This doesn’t mean you have to stay sitting at home. Stay active by walking around your local mall or exercising at your local gym. There are plenty of places indoors to get your sweat on without raising your body temperature.
- Get yourself a cooling vest or other cooling equipment
There are many kinds of cooling equipment out there that can be used to help you avoid heating up. They include vests and packs that can be worn over or under clothing. Some work by inserting reusable ice packs into pockets on the vest, while others work by saturating special polymer beads with water that evaporates to cool you off. Organizations like the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation have cooling programs to put cooling vests in the hands of MS patients. Be sure to checks their qualifications as some have financial requirements.
- Know your limits
Be sure to listen to your body. Don’t overdo it in the heat if you’re not feeling well!
It is important to remember that if you do get hot and see worsening of your MS symptoms, it is usually only temporary. Heat does not increase damage to the nerves. Your symptoms should dissipate as you cool off and your body temperature returns to normal. If they don’t, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Tell us some of your tips for staying cool in the comments!
To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis services at Magee, click here.