The heat is on: staying cool with MS
The temperature is rising, and while the rest of the UK bask in the sun, people with MS can find their symptoms feel worse.
We asked three MS bloggers to tell us how they cope with the heat - use the comments section below to tell us how you fare when the weather gets warm.
For more information, download our factsheet: Hot and cold – the effects of temperature on MS.
"I find myself really looking forward to the summer when the weather is grey, miserable and cold – especially as the cold makes my legs, and me in general, very stiff. Then we have a few days of warmer weather and I long for autumn!
Wobbly legs, fatigue, double vision and dizziness are all unwanted gifts from hot weather! As well as general discomfort. I resort to cold, wet flannels around my neck on really hot days, and just the usual of drinking lots of cold fluids, trying to lose some weight is also helping I think this year.
It is difficult for me to find activities to do with my two boys during the heat in the summer months, so we resort to water pistols, paddling pools, lots of fruity ice lollies and other fun things we can do in the comfort of our own home rather than battling with hoards of tourists on our beach, finding parking spaces and generally battling through in the hot weather.
But on the upside, the stiffness is easier and there’s plenty of free vitamin D to soak up!"
"Many people have migrated to my corner of the USA for the way our mild weather treats their MS. Here in Seattle, it’s said that our climate is much like that of the British Isles – cool and damp in the winter, mild and sunny in the summer.
We with MS have known for a long time that heat just isn’t “good” for many of us - though I’ve been told by a good number of people that they feel better in the heat than in the cold. Summer time heat (and particularly the humidity which can go with it) can wilt us like an un-watered petunia left in a garden pot.
While we knew this, it was only recently that researchers began to find data to support our anecdotal claims. A study published in March tells of the cognitive symptoms which can be brought on by MS.
There are a few things we can do when the temperature rises. This is not a complete list - do make some suggestions by commenting with your coping methods:
- Drink plenty of cool, clear fluids (and as much as it pains me, avoid alcohol and caffeine)
- Place a cool, damp cloth on your skin where the blood vessels are (inside your wrists, around your neck, back of knees/elbows, etc)
- Spend the hottest part of the day in a shopping center or movie theater
- Get into a pool
- Wear light and loose fitting clothing
- Spritz your face, neck and arms with a spray bottle of cool water
- Pre-cool your body in a cool shower or tub if you have to go into the heat
- Follow-up any activity in the heat with a cool shower
- Specialty cooling vests are available
Even if the heat passes if a few days, there is no telling when it will be back; it is only May, after all … "
"Having survived the onslaught of the recent wet weather, we are not only told that we still have a hose pipe ban, but also that we should now prepare for a heat wave.
In this country is there no in between? It seems to be very wet, muddy and miserably cold, or very dry, concrete hard under foot and miserably sticky to venture out in.
I’m told that the heat is bad for ‘some’ people with MS, but I disagree. It’s ALL of us that suffer. I don’t know of anyone who doesn't find the heat energy-sapping, weakness-inducing and fatigue-accelerating.
In the past it would be about this time of year that I would drool longingly at holiday brochures - the sun drenched beaches, spotted with immaculate sized bodies all with enviable golden brown tans.
Rest assured you’re not missing much and these rather enticing ‘sales’ pictures were, more than likely, taken off season during a freakishly hot spell! In real life the beaches are filled with pink coloured ice cream eaters who carry more spare tyres than are realistically needed to float out on the water.
Rather than being dotted artistically on the white sands, these ‘holiday makers’ are wedged into the area, fighting for anywhere to spread out and crisp up like streaky breakfast bacon.
That’s not to say that I, like any sane person, enjoy a hot shower each morning as my guilty pleasure. I know I should be doused in ice cold water, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
“Oh well ... it’s all your own fault then!” I hear you say ..."