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a man staying cool wearing a vest surrounded by angry hot suns

It’s That Time of the Year: Staying Cool With MS

For many of us, that dreaded time of the year is nearly upon us. The season when temperatures begin to rise and make life a living hell for many with Multiple Sclerosis. Changes in temperature can have a dramatic effect on those living with MS. It’s a topic that is heavily talked about with regards to MS, one that even I have covered a lot. With the effects of temperature change, heat in particular, being such a major problem for those with MS, there are many, many articles written about ways to keep cool. This is one of those, but, because this is such an important thing for those of us with MS, I feel we can’t have enough of them. I know I scour every such article I can find to try to find new tips for keeping cool! So here are some things I do, and afterwards, please feel free to share your cooling strategies, think of this as the beginning of a conversation!

Situational awareness

One of my key strategies for keeping cool may seem obvious, but it can often be overlooked. I simply just try to be aware of not only what the weather will be, but the locations I’ll be going to. Are they places that have good air conditioning? Will it be humid as well as hot out (I feel like I can never get cool if it’s humid)? Maybe it will be in the mid 60s, but with 100% humidity, most places won’t have their AC on with weather like that, but the humidity will be punishing for me. Even time of day is important, afternoons are already very tough for me, if I will be in a place where I can’t control the temps, they’ll likely be even worse.

Air conditioning

Again, this seems obvious, but I mention this because for many people with Multiple Sclerosis, air conditioning is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. I generally need it to be much colder than most people. I don’t need that to simply be comfortable, I need it to function. I need it to be able to see, and speak, and move around. It’s something that those with MS just don’t understand. It’s sort of nice out, let’s just ride with the windows down! No, let’s not, because that’s not enough and not a consistent enough cool. Consistent and controllable temperature is the key. Sure, maybe there is a nice breeze out, but a cool breeze isn’t consistent enough.

Cooling products

Many of us have learned to rely on cooling products. They can be extremely helpful, so I’ll share what I use:

  • Cooling vest: these things can be bulky, but essential. They can be expensive though. Luckily our friends at the MSAA have a program to help get people the much needed cooling vests they need (This and a few of their other programs are reasons I tend to not participate in the MS Walks these days, instead, I try to drive donations towards these programs because I’ve seen just how helpful they are and have benefited from them myself). You can check out their program here.
  • Migraine hat: This is something I found on Amazon: while not something I’d wear out, I use it at home when I need to cool down. It’s basically a cap that is loaded with ice packs. Makes it very easy to use, much easier than a cooling headband that I used to use. There are various makes and models out there too.
  • Ice packs: Again, sounds simple right, but they’re important. I get small flexible ones and literally put them in my pockets. My cargo shorts are more than just a sweet fashion choice, they often have these small ice packs in them, right in my pockets. My best friend’s wedding? Yep, I had small ice packs in the pockets and jacket of my tuxedo. They even have ice packs these days that only need cold water to get recharged, those can be especially handy.

Clothing choices

Sounds pretty basic, right? It is, but worth mentioning that choosing the right clothing is extremely important. I tend to rock shorts most of the year because of the effect high temps have on me. I also pay attention to fabric choices and avoid heavy materials as much as possible. I get extremely picky about t-shirts. Many are way too thick and made with cotton. I actually have polo style shirts that are cooler than some of my t-shirts because of the materials they are made from.

What about you?

So those are some simple but extremely important tips I use to keep cool. What about those reading this? What do you do? Do you have a particular product you use? I’m always interested in whatever cooling tips I can get!

Thanks for reading!


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  • Nina
    6 months ago

    I do all of the above. Try freezing fresh strawberries (cut in half), blueberries or grapes individually on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper, and when frozen pop in a bag in the freezer.
    Great straight from the freezer when you come in from the yard or excursions. Stay hydrated by carrying ice water with you at all times. Cold
    showers help, too.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    6 months ago

    Thank you @Nine, very much appreciate the tips!

  • hairbrain4
    1 year ago

    I usually wear a cooling vest if I am going to be in a hot environment like gardening or cooking/serving at our community soup kitchen where it really gets hot. I have two different kinds, one goes around my waist and the other is a full vest. It depends on how hot it is and what I am doing on which one I wear. I also use an ice pack in my hat, the kind that stays soft, to keep my head cool. And sometimes I wear one of those neck things that you soak in water and swell up, but then I freeze it in the shape of my neck. I’ve learned the hard way if I don’t stay cool I pay a price for it and it isn’t worth it!

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    Last year my doctor asked me if I was getting overheated in the summertime. He gave me a packet to fill out some forms and mail into the MS Society, he had already signed his part.

    I filled it out and mailed it all in. Sure enough, a few weeks later I received a vest with all the ice packs that go into the pockets all thru it. It is pretty bulky but I’m no fashionista and if you are going to be out for any length of time I recommend it.

    For the most part though, I spend my summers hiding in the AC or swimming in the pool. This is the time of year that MS actually makes me a hermit.

  • potter
    1 year ago

    I am also so a hermit in the summer, we have had a hot spring this year it is so depressing. My best trick to deal with too much heat is frozen water bottles. We carry a cooler with bottled water that are kept cold with frozen water bottles. If I start to get too hot I grab one and put it on the back of my neck and it cools the blood to my brain. I usually start feeling better in 30 minutes. It depends on how hot I got. Several years ago my husband and I were driving a classic car to a car show. We got stuck in a traffic jam and it was 105 outside. We had to turn off the car so it wouldn’t over heat. After awhile I started to pass out, my husband grabbed a frozen bottle and put it behind my neck. By the time we got to the show and hotel I was awake and able to function.

  • lcanno14
    2 years ago

    Hi Devin, i have P.P.M.S for almost 14 yrs. Now, so i love to put sea (tissue) salt about 1/2 tbsp. Worth in my H20 bottle & a wet _ice cold bandana from the freezer wrapped around my neck… & go to our ac freezin community center’s pool. Stay cool this summer!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing lcanno14!

  • CatDancer
    2 years ago

    I have to do many of the things you speak of here. Summer is such a pain in the butt. AC is a must. Cooling equipments—sometimes getting it all together in the morning wears me out before I go out. I exercise in the mornings in air conditioning. I try to drink cool fluids and wear more comfortabld clothing—miss the fashion days. I do everything I can to get to the mountains close by. I’ll try to plan my outings in the early part of the day. The hardest is being in the house most of the time during the summer.

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