While summer in Arizona can be hard for anyone to bare it poses a unique challenge to those with Multiple Sclerosis. An increase of even 1/4 to 1/2 a degree in core body temperature can cause a temporary worsening of MS symptoms due to its negative effect on the already demyelinated nerve’s ability to conduct signals effectively.
Though this temporary increase in symptoms does not represent an increase in disease activity it can be at best annoying and at worst debilitating during the long summer months.
What Should I Avoid?
Though each person with MS may have a unique tolerance to heat there are many sources of heat that can potentially cause problems:
- Hot showers or baths
- Keeping the temperature too warm in your home or car
- Exercising (even in a relatively cool environment)
- Spending time in the sun
- Walking from your car to an air-conditioned building any time between May and September
How can I stay cool?
Experiment with different strategies for staying cool. Some may work better for you than others.
- Wear light, breathable clothing during the warmer months and when exercising
- Plan your activities for the coolest times of the day whenever possible
- Use an oscillating fan or air conditioner in your home to keep the temperature down
- Wear a cooling wrap or towel for the neck during hot weather
- Purchase an ice vest to keep you cool when you exercise
- Sip an icy or cool drink
- Take a cool shower or bath to help lower your core temperature
Though it may be difficult to avoid the heat all the time during the summer with some diligence and creativity you may be able to continue participating in the activities you love.