Well, “heat wave” is a bit of a misnomer since the majority of MSers are heat sensitive, or even downright heat intolerant, so really any kind of heat can be the impetus for our own heat waves. And raised here in the SF Bay Area, I tend to be a bit Goldilocks anyway, preferring things to be not-too-hot, not-too-cold, but just right.
At the end of August, when we get a sudden spike of hot weather like we sometime do, we often refer to it as an Indian Summer. (I have come to learn that there is an actual definition of this in the Farmer’s Almanac, and we are not using it properly!).
Many MSers experience a temporary worsening of symptoms when the weather is very hot, or really anytime their core body temperature rises even one-quarter of a degree. In fact, an elevated temperature even impairs the ability of healthy nerves to conduct electrical impulses.
It can be especially hard for some of us because we may not sweat properly! (Scientists call the study of this “thermoregulatory dysfunction in MS” or “temperature dysregulation“. )
In any case, you all know the basics: drink lots of water and stay hydrated, seek air conditioning, wear loose clothing, don’t run appliances like the dish washer or the washing machine at high peak times.
Here are more tips:
- Drink water regularly, even before you get thirsty. Maybe try to drink an 8oz. glass of plain water each hour. (And if you find you are staying away from liquids because you have bladder problems, be sure to mention that to your doctor so the two of you can come up with a solution.)
- Eat cold, small meals that don’t need to be cooked. Consider using the microwave, the toaster oven or grill outside if you need to heat food.
- Snack on frozen grapes or blueberries; stock-up on popsicles. (When you have the energy, you can even make your own popsicles, using papercups and fortifying them with fresh fruit and herbs like ginger. )
- Keep your curtains closed and unplug all unneeded electronics during the day to keep house cooler. Consider having a cold room set up in a cooler part of the house, like a basement.
- Place trays of ice in front of, or tie paper strands to, a stationary fan. Carry small hand held fan with you and use often. (You can also go to a community cooling center. Check with your local utility.)
- Wear lighter colors, breathable shoes, a cooling vest if needed. Wear wet swimsuit outside when doing yard work or gardening. As soon as suit dries, it is time to come inside. (Make sure to wear sunscreen for your skin when gardening and any other time you’re outside)
- Take siestas during the hottest part of day. Then take a late night stroll and enjoy the nights coolness.
- Make sure your car’s air conditioning is working. Tint your car windows with tint product (get a tint with heat reduction as its main goal). Consider insulating car floor.
- Freeze sheets before bed. Try buckwheat pillow. Use thinnest sheets on bed as possible. Consider sleeping naked.
- If you don’t have the energy to do any of this right now, get a cold drink and a washcloth to wet, then fill your bathtub or kiddie pool or even just a bucket with cold water for your feet, and soak.
Finally, some people with MS notice that symptoms become worse in cold weather too. It is generally recommended that people with MS who are sensitive to temperature try to avoid extremes of either hot or cold.