“Remember the kids who only came out at night because the sun caused problems for them? MS kind of reminds me of that when the heat is on and we can’t be out without problems.”
Those living with MS know that life can throw many curveballs that can exacerbate symptoms. One predictable life challenge, however, is summer heat. Heat is known to cause a temporary worsening of MS symptoms and is often unavoidable for most. With summer time in the U.S. and other areas of the world quickly approaching, we asked you, the community, how you beat the heat while living with MS. These are some of the top tips you suggested.
Stay indoors as much as possible:
“Sleeping in the heat is the worse. I feel like I’m run over by a truck in the morning. I try to get the room and myself as cold as possible before sleeping.”
Avoiding the sun altogether is one of the best options. Having a working air conditioning system in your house, as well as several fans, can keep your environment cool and shielded from the heat outside. Staying indoors may not always be the most exciting, so having plenty of games, cards, puzzles, TV shows and movies to catch up on, or any other fun indoor activities on hand can provide just as much fun as outdoor summer activities.
If you do want to leave the house, plan ahead and listen to your body:
“Outside for 30 minutes, inside for about three hours. Afternoon heat is the worst!”
“I stay inside unless have to mow the lawn… I take breaks, ice packs and lots of water”
Of course, it is still summertime, and there are many fun things to do with friends and family, so staying inside may not always be an option nor wanted. If you do end up going outside, planning ahead is a must. Several community members talked about planning errands or activities early in the morning or late at night—times when the summer heat is at its tamest. If you do need to be out in the afternoon heat, take frequent breaks and remember to stay hydrated! Research places you are visiting ahead of time to make sure there are shady places you can retreat to, or air conditioned buildings close by. Planning cool activities like swimming can also help you get out while remaining comfortable.
Bring along things to keep cool: Vests, wipes, and spray bottles
“I got the vest within days!! I couldn’t believe it… made my whole day!!!”
Many community members discussed purchasing (or getting a prescription for) cooling vests that seem to work well in the hot weather. Some last throughout the day, while others need refill packs every few hours. All types seem to be highly praised.
It can also be helpful to carry wipes, specifically alcohol wipes, or spray and misting water bottles with fans around on warmer days. Some members also suggest adding peppermint oil to spray bottles for added freshness! For more tips on beating the heat, check here!
“I feel like I am a defective MSer! I thrive in the heat. I do my best in the heat and sun. Winter kills me. I have a hard time walking and moving around. I get very stiff. Lots of hot showers and we keep our house at about 80 degrees. I do my best and feel my best in summer.”
As always, not all individuals with MS share the same experiences, and not all of these tips may be feasible or work for everyone. If summertime is when you thrive the most, and cold weather gets you down, check out this article on managing the cold! Whatever your experience, checking in with your healthcare provider frequently is always helpful, as well as trying to keep as positive an outlook as possible!