Weather, Oh Wonderful Weather
Living in the Midwest, we are pretty used to all different sorts of weather. We experience every bit of all four seasons, which for those of us with MS can be extremely difficult. For many MS’ers the extreme heat, or cold can be very dangerous to our health, as our symptoms can flare big time. I’ve always had many more problems with heat more than the cold, but I know plenty of people experience many of the same issues with the cold as I do with heat. Neither of these is fun, or very avoidable if you live anywhere with climate and season change like I do.
There are lots of different things that can be done, however, to handle climate change and its effect on your MS symptoms. The symptoms that flare up for you will dictate, of course, what course of action or treatment you and your doctor feel is appropriate for you. There are medications we have all heard of (or taken, or take now) to control things like fatigue, numbness, tingling, and more. But what do you do if you’re getting symptoms that are specific to the heat or the cold? The ones that you only have to deal with in times of the “extremes,” and therefore a maintenance medication won’t work.
Resources to stay cool
There are a lot of great organizations out there that have a variety of programs available to the MS community. The two largest available to us here in the United States are the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA). Both offer programs and assistance to those living with MS and their loved ones and caregivers. The MSAA has programs to assist you with getting devices such as cooling vests for little or no cost, which is a fantastic benefit to many of us, for many reasons. Obviously, you enjoyed the “little or no cost” portion of that sentence, if you’re anything like me at least. For most of us with MS, we have to watch every penny spent, and then some. Actually, that applies to most people, not just our specific group, and I would venture a guess that most people appreciate saving a dime wherever possible. So, back to the cooling vest. It is exactly what you think. There are multiple kinds, so do your research of course, but basically you pre-cool it by freezing the vest or inserts, (depending on the brand you purchase) and then wear it under clothing while you’re out in the heat to keep yourself cooled down a bit, and hopefully keeping some issues at bay.
Other great tools
There are lots of other great tools that you can use to help with extreme heat and cold, or just the temperature change that can cause issues and flares. Some folks find relief in swimming, for both temperature concerns and for the ability to exercise and do so low impact, with the aid of the water. You can get in touch with the NMSS to find out about your local programs and what they can do to help you with membership to somewhere with a pool and exercise programs, cooling devices, help with utilities if you pay to heat or cool your home or apartment, etc.
Basically what I’m saying is that there are a lot of tools at your disposal and a lot of organizations out there to help you out. They can offer assistance in many ways, a lot of which are offered at no cost to you. Please check them out and take advantage of those offerings which may help you out, that’s what these organizations are around for.
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?