Living with MS: How to Have Fun in the Summer, and Beat the Heat!

Patient Expert

Finally, the bitter cold winter is gone As the temperatures heat up, we all tend to want to spend more time outside. However, for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, we must be careful.

Although spending time outside and soaking up the vitamin D is good for us, too much heat can do us in. I know from experience. For me, heat is one thing that puts me over the edge very quickly. Heat is what causes my symptoms to heighten, and it can cause tremendous amounts of fatigue. To help myself with this, I have discovered (with the help of my mom and friends) ways to keep cool in the summer.

Tip #1: Drink, drink, drink! It is important to keep hydrated, as it reduces pain, fatigue, and it is really good for you! Don’t drink only water though; otherwise, you will lose your electrolytes.

Tip #2: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Often, I find myself bringing a “cooler” change of clothes with me. If I am wearing capris and a t-shirt, I will carry a pair of shorts and a tank top with me in case I get too hot.

Tip #3: Wear a cooling vest. “What’s that?” A cooling vest is a vest made to produce cold, to fight the heat. This past summer I was working at the state fair. While I was working there, it was anywhere from 95-110 degrees each day. Of course, I was tired from working, but was also fatigued from the heat! My mom made a vest for me which I could place ice packs in its pockets and wear over or under my shirt. I had to replace the ice packs about every 2 hours, but since I was working somewhere with a freezer, I was able to do so with ease. Cooling vests can either be made (if you are good at sewing) or purchased from a number of places. Another option to a cooling vest, is a wet t-shirt. This can be very helpful, but sometimes unsuitable for certain situations.

Tip #4: Go swimming! What better summer activity than swimming?! It is great exercise, and it cools you off!

Tip #5: Rest when you need to. Last summer I was participating in a program where we took many field trips. On one particular day, it was roughly 100 degrees and humid. After an hour-long ride on the school bus (no air conditioning), I was spent. I could not participate in the field trip. Instead, I told my leader that I needed to find a cool place to rest. Thankfully, the trip that day was to a high school, and I was able to rest in their front office (which was air conditioned!) as the group toured outside. Sometimes I have to miss out on certain activities to better my health, but in the long run, I would rather be cool, comfortable and healthy, than fatigued, hot, and with other heightened symptoms.

These five tips are only some of the ways to stay cool and active in the heat. Be sure to listen to your body. If you feel yourself getting too hot, find a place to sit where you can beat the heat.