Changing seasons can make managing a chronic illness like RA even more challenging than it already is – with falling or rising temperatures aggravating joints or causing flares. Here are 10 tips on how best to manage your RA as the temperatures rise. (All images credit: Thinkstock)
If you’re like me and find drinking water “boring” switch things up by infusing your water with fresh fruit – strawberry, mint and lemon is one of my favorites.
Choose an easy summer style
When I have an RA flare, the sensation of just wearing clothes can feel heavy and painful. I opt for cool and soft jersey knit fabrics during the summer which helps alleviate additional discomfort.
Find comfortable footwear
Summer time means the emergence of flip flops and other unsupportive footwear. Find a sandal or other well ventilated shoe that offers good support while keeping you cool and comfortable.
Make sunscreen a habit
Many medications can cause sun sensitivity even if you’ve never burned in the past. Wear sunscreen daily even for minimal exposure. If you’re sensitive to sun-screen odor, there are all-natural products out there that don’t have offensive scents.
Don’t forget to eat
When it’s hot and I’m in pain, my appetite tends to go missing. Keeping ingredients on hand for smoothies and cool summer soups helps me to eat even when I might not really want to.
Create a cool retreat
Not all of us are lucky enough to have central air in our homes, but it’s important to have a least one room in the house where you can lie down and cool off. For me this means a window AC in my bedroom so that I can sleep comfortably during those humid summer nights.
Don’t skip out on exercise
The combination of heat and pain make exercise the last thing I want to do, but it’s important to maintain any exercise routine you have during the summer. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a pool, it’s a great way to cool off while exercising!
Use cooling products
There are several over the counter topical pain relief gels that I use regularly, but even more so over the summer. The cooling sensation of menthol on a hot, angry joint feels especially good when the weather is hot.
Stay out of extreme temperatures
I recommend downloading a weather app with weather alerts for things like high heat index days. This helps me plan work, errands, etc. so that I can be inside for the hottest parts of the day.
Indulge in a cool treat
When summer weather has you flaring and in pain, making rest and self-care a priority is critical. Indulge in a cool, sweet treat like ice cream or frozen yogurt while you relax and take care of mind and body.