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Monday, June 7, 2010

MS and Summer: Coping Strategies

 Yes, the summer is upon us—glorious days made for the beach, hikes, outdoor cafes and concerts, and relaxing by the pool.  But those of us with MS (and some other neurological conditions)—who have to avoid the heat and limit activities that raise our core temperatures—are relegated to enjoying the summer sun from inside our (hopefully) air-conditioned homes and keeping our time outside to a minimum. 
The symptoms we experience in the heat may feel like an exacerbation, but they’re not.  They feel so much like an exacerbation, in fact, that they are often referred to collectively as a pseudo-exacerbation.  They will almost always pass once we are in a cooler place.  It’s also amazing how quickly the symptoms can hit.  In my case it is, literally, instant—usually within 5 seconds from exposure to the heat.  Relief can come just as quickly once I’m in the air conditioning.
If, like me, you are drained, pummeled and cognitively challenged by the heat, but can’t avoid being out in it sometimes anyway, you’ll want to take advantage of some helpful coping strategies.
  1. If possible, go out only during the coolest hours—early morning and early evening. 
  2. Don’t go in the direct sun.  Period.  But if you absolutely have to, and even if you’re in the shade but it’s hot anyway, wear cooling scarves around your neck and both wrists.  Keep a mini-cooler filled with ice water close by.  Dunk the scarves and wristbands in it periodically to maintain their cool temperature.  
  3. Consider wearing a cooling vest.  There are many models available—Google “cooling vests” and thousands of websites will come up.  Some vests are more practical than others, and you’re bound to find something that works for you.
  4. Water, water and more water. 


 CONTINUE directly from the MRF BLOG

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