Monday, April 23, 2012

In The Good Old Summertime

According to the National MS Society, people with multiple sclerosis often report worse symptoms when the weather is hot. A recent study concludes that hot weather may also worsen the ability to perform mental tasks in some people with MS.   Warmer weather tends to worsen many people’s neurological symptoms of MS. Recent research also suggests that relapses are more likely to occur in warmer months, and some people may have more MRI-detected active MS brain lesions during these months. Many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather is very hot or humid or they run a fever, sunbathe, get overheated from exercise, or take very hot showers or baths. For example, some people notice that their vision becomes blurred when they get overheated—a phenomenon known as Uhthoff's sign. These temporary changes can result from even a very slight elevation in core body temperature (one-quarter to one-half of a degree) because an elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.
I don’t know about you, but these are “duh” statements!  Those of us with MS KNOW this and don’t need a bunch of studies performed to come to this conclusion.  When the weather starts getting warmer, we stay inside or pay the price.
Now I know that, like everything else in the world, there are those with MS that heat does not affect like it does some of us.  There are those on several MS sites that talk about lying out in the sun and getting a tan.  Many go on long bike rides, run in races and do many other things in the summertime.  Most of us don’t have that option, but are thankful that some do.
If I take a hot shower, I am so weak I can barely dry off.  If I get out in the sun over 3 or 4 minutes, I am weak, nauseated and often sick for several days.  Most of us with MS have a terrible time when the temperatures start getting warm and cannot deal with heat even in small doses.
Several companies have developed cooling vests, hats, wrist and head bands and such to help us cope when we have to be outside in warm weather.  Although skeptical of these things, I have tried them and they really work!  I still can’t be out long in the heat, but when I have to be outside, they help keep me from becoming really sick and too weak to function.
As it is, me and most of my MS family will have to forego lying on the beach and getting a tan.  We won’t be running in summer races or bicycling down the road in July.  But we will still enjoy the day and the beautiful summer sunshine …….we will just do it from the comfort of our homes with the a/c wide open!


Thriving With MS said...

Battling summer heat is a challenge for those who enjoy gentle activities like gardening or walking their dog. There's always a way to work around it: getting up early, being outside at sunset, wearing the vests you mention, hats, moist towel neck wraps. Acknowledging your own limit is the key to having fun and not getting 'burned' by the summer heat. Great post!

Janie said...

Thank you! When I was young, I loved getting a tan and being outside. Now I am happy to watch from inside an air conditioned room. We have to love where we are in life or miss the whole thing! ;)

Muffie said...

I don't get excessively overheated when the warm weather arrives, and I've only had one bad incident from being in the heat. That said, however, I still avoid being outdoors for too long when the temperatures rise. I try to take tepid showers, and I've even learned to eat my food at less than the desired temp. There's no use in tempting fate!