A series of dominos are lined up and starting to lean. The number of circles create the look of a sad, exhausted face while the others appear to be melting and falling over.

The Domino Effect: Summer Heat and MS Symptom Flare-Ups

You would think that living with MS for going on 10 years that I would be used to the challenges that it brings. In a way, I am used to the symptoms, but they just seem to come about without warning, so it’s frustrating. We all know that we have to expect the unexpected. However, that’s easier said than done. Currently, it feels as if my symptoms are more pronounced. One benefit of the summer heat is that the heat exhausts me (weird to say, I know), but I’m falling asleep easier at night. Yes, fatigue is a thing with MS, but falling asleep is always an issue for me as well.

Difficulty focusing on conversations

Also, do you ever just look at someone when you’re having a conversation and you’re trying to pay attention and participate, but you didn’t hear a word they said by the end of it all? That has happened to me so much recently, and it’s extremely frustrating. I don’t want to appear rude and ask them to repeat themselves either. I can only explain it as if I’m staring at them having a conversation, even responding, but my brain is off in day-dream land and I have no idea if I even responded correctly. I’ve been tempted to start recording conversations so that I can go back and remember what was discussed.

A mix of fatigue, cog-fog, and heat sensitivity

I’ve even said things in conversations and was asked about it later on and have no memory of ever saying it. Or someone asked me to do something and I don’t ever remember them asking me. This can be frustrating to my husband especially. It also makes it seem like I’m horrible at the whole communication skills thing, but I’ve come realize that I deal with this issue when I have the ‘drained’ feeling. I’m guessing that it’s a mix of fatigue, cog-fog, and heat sensitivity since it’s more prominent in the heat for me.

I don't want to forget what I have to say

Also, in conversations, I appear very eager and almost interruptive because I REALLY want to get what I have to say out. Why is that? Because I don’t want to forget what I want to say! Personal tip: if you have your phone handy, put your thoughts in your notes or reminders in your phone so that you can have something to go to for a reminder.

Heat can slur my speech and make it hard to get words out

We all say that we’re going to remember, but let’s be honest, we don’t a lot of the times. So, for instance, I’ve noticed that when I’m able to speak in a conversation, I try to get it out as quickly as possible. But I trip over my words and it comes out as gibberish in a sense. Then I get frustrated and take a big breath and repeat every word again, slower, to get my message across. When I was in the heat for a long period of time and exhausted, it also came out a bit slurred. I probably came off as highly intoxicated if I was conversing with someone that didn’t know about my MS.

One MS symptom followed by another

It also doesn’t help that parts of my face were going red/splotchy from being overheated either. I’ve just been frustrated recently because it seems as if when one symptom is an issue, more and more follow it. It’s like a domino effect. I can tell you that with the 100+ degree weather, my fatigue got worse. After that, my cognitive issues got worse, then my speech was getting slow. All of this just stressed me out, and stress is ALSO a trigger for MS. It’s like a never-ending battle, and I have a feeling of ‘what’s next’.

Am I having a relapse?

Relapses are also something to worry about with the increase of symptoms. If my increased symptom(s) last longer than 48 hours, I contact my neurologist to discuss and monitor. I try to keep notes/journal of my triggers as well, so it’s easier to manage later on. It’s just so hard to tell with this disease because there aren’t two exact cases. It’s just a guessing game on how this illness will play out for each one of us.

Until next time,

Ashley Ringstaff

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.