Beat the Heat: Tips for Overcoming the Summer Heat

With the summer fast approaching, heat can aggravate MS symptoms for some people. Fatigue, weakness and visual disturbances are just a few of the symptoms that might re-occur when the body’s core temperature rises. That’s why today, we are bringing you a few strategies for easing the effects of heat.

Demyelinated fibres in the central nervous system can be susceptible to even small elevations of core body temperature, resulting in conduction delays. This sensitivity can be brought out by sunbathing, exercise, hot baths, fatigue, fever, or any other factors associated with an increase of core body temperature.

Tips on how to ease the summer heat:

  • If possible, stay in an air-conditioned environment during periods of extreme heat and humidity. If an air conditioner is needed to help minimize symptoms, the cost of this equipment may be tax deductible if the physician has prescribed it.
  • Use cooling products such as neck wraps and bandanas during exercise or outdoor activity. See the list here. (Please note: the MS Society does not endorse any supplier or manufacturer). When you sense yourself overheating, place cooling products on your body’s pulse points such as the neck, temples, inner wrist, inner elbows, back of knees, inner thighs, or ankles.
  • Wear lightweight, loose, breathable clothing.
  • Icy drinks or popsicles can provide temporary relief. Consider freezing seedless grapes for a healthy frozen snack or use frozen berries in a blender with frozen or chilled ingredients to create a smoothie. Also, keep your water jug in the fridge during the summer months.
  • Use an oscillating fan or air conditioning while exercising indoors. Stay hydrated when temperatures rise, and especially when exercising outside a refreshing pool sounds nice. A cool bath or shower, or simply running cold water over your wrists can help too. Maybe, consider investing in a misting fan for outdoor spaces. They can lower outdoor temperature by as much as 20 degrees, so your core temperature is less likely to rise while maximizing your time outside.
  • Try a gel pillow, pillowcase, or a cooling mattress pad to help you sleep more comfortably.
  • Close your blinds during the day to keep your space cooler. Don’t heat the kitchen and house when cooking. Use stove vents or ceiling fans to eliminate some of the heat. While you’re at it, consider meals that require shorter cooking time.

MS symptoms that have occurred before can re-appear through increased temperatures and disappear with rest and cooling, also called a pseudo-relapse. Pseudo-relapses are not related to new inflammation or disease activity and do not require treatment. Avoidance is the best defence, and when unavoidable, minimum exposure followed by cooling strategies should be sought. When the body temperature regulates, symptoms will subside.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, please reach out to your healthcare team. For more information about beating the heat or MS relapses, please connect with an MS Navigator at 1-844-859-6789 or send an email to msnavigators@mssociety.ca


[i] MS® Enger E-news from the MS Society of Canada, Northern Regional Chapter, BC & Yukon Division, 2018.

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