How to Make Summer Sizzle Without the Heat (and Symptoms)
Summertime is synonymous with long days of warmth, coastal sunsets, boating, and barbecues. A montage of my teenage self at sailing camp, pool parties, and beach bonfires plays to Loggins and Messina, Jackson Browne, and the Eagles. The unrequited crushes on sailing instructors to my first kiss … those sacred summer seasons bore witness to my coming of age.
The irony is not lost on me.
Multiple sclerosis and summertime are incompatible. While boating soothes my soul, heat brings me to my knees — it is my kryptonite. Even mild exposure elicits problems with speech, balance, concentration, cognition, and vision. I begin to slow down until I am thick with fatigue. I must lie down. And when I do, a sick paralysis ensues. Game over.
According to MS Focus, in 1890 Wilhelm Uhthoff noticed that people’s optic neuritis would worsen when they exercised. Later research found exercise wasn’t the trigger; rather, it was the heat and rise in body temperature. The correlation between heat and MS symptom intensification later became known as Uhtoff’s phenomenon.
It is integral that you learn how to manage and mitigate symptoms of heat exposure. The best strategy is to avoid the heat. But accidents happen. Try and prepare for them.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate! Drink up and be sure to have water bottles in your car. I emphasize water because it’s typically the healthiest way to hydrate.
- Modify your schedule to fit the temperature. Make early morning trips to the grocery store. Walk the dog before it becomes hot.
- Invest in my three favorite musts: a cooling towel, cooling bandana, and cooling vest. Each help to drop your core temperature, thereby mitigating risk of heat exposure.
- Try to stay in air-conditioned areas. While expensive, the cost is well worth your health. Additionally, many U.S. states offer a medical baseline with the possibility of a discounted rate.
Discover what works for you. Don’t refuse summer. Redefine how you experience it.
My playlist transitioned from a record player to an iPod, and I bloomed from a little girl to a grown woman. But summertime will remain the season of my heart.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.