Author: Amy Adams, Clinical Pharmacist
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the central nervous system. In many cases, people with MS will have difficulty with balance, vision and muscle control. One way to manage MS symptoms is to stay cool, which is not always easy in the summer heat. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society explains how heat and temperature sensitivity can affect people with MS. Check out these seven easy tips to manage MS this summer.
Keep it Cool
Making small changes can really help you manage your MS symptoms. When it comes to liquids, just remember to keep them cool. Always keep a glass of cold water nearby. It may be helpful to invest in a quality water bottle, so you can carry water with you and keep it cold all day long. Skip the hot shower or warm bath and opt for cooler water temperatures. If coffee is part of your morning routine, get your caffeine fix through iced coffee instead of hot. Look for other simple ways to cool down as you go about your day-to-day activities.
Wear Cooling Clothes
There are many different products designed specifically to keep your body cool. Cooling vests, neck wraps and other cooling products can be helpful, especially when you can’t avoid the summer heat. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a list of companies and resources to help you get access to cooling products. You can also help your body stay cool by making thoughtful wardrobe choices with the clothes you already own. Wear light colors, lightweight fabrics and loose-fitting clothes to prevent overheating.
Know your Cooling Points
Certain parts of your body are known as “cooling points.” Think of places where you can feel your pulse. If you can feel your pulse, it means your blood vessels are close to the surface of your skin. Common cooling points include your neck, wrists temples and inner thighs. Focus on cooling these areas quickly to feel relief throughout your entire body.
Eat Cold Foods
Sometimes eating can make your body temperature feel higher, especially when it’s already hot outside. In the summer months, you may want to eat lighter meals more often to help manage your MS symptoms. Take advantage of summer favorites such as popsicles, fresh fruit and garden vegetables. Eating these cold or chilled foods can help you avoid overheating.
Prepare for the Outdoors
Avoid the heat of the day by planning outdoor activities for early morning or later in the day when the sun is less intense. If you are outside in the heat, look for shade and bring a personal fan with a mist spray. There are many different kinds of fans available. If your home doesn’t have ceiling fans, the local home improvement store has plenty of other options. Position fans around your living room, kitchen, bathroom, patio and bedroom to maximize their cooling effect. You may also enjoy a handheld fan to take on the go. Be sure to pack extra batteries if you will be out for a long time.
Take it Easy
Don’t hesitate to take a break or stop and rest if you’re outside in the heat. Physical activity on a hot day can quickly raise your body temperature and aggravate your MS symptoms. Grab a drink of cold water, catch your breath and enjoy some shade to avoid overexertion.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to beat the summer heat is often to stay in the air conditioning. Staying inside doesn’t have to mean staying at home. Look for fun indoor activities like museums and movie theaters. Block out the summer sun and keep your home a comfortable temperature by keeping your blinds closed during the day.
Pay attention to your body. If you start to feel signs of heat exhaustion, don’t ignore them. Visit the Mayo Clinic website to learn more about heat exhaustion warning signs and first aid care. You’re not alone in managing MS this summer. MultipleSclerosis.net offers a community of people who understand what it’s like living with MS and can help you manage your condition this summer. If you’re having a hard time controlling your MS symptoms, talk to your doctor or Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) pharmacist.