How To Manage Heat with MS

Curated by
Brittany Déjean
Content via Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Magee Rehabilitation Hospital
Curated by
Brittany Déjean

Managing heat with MS comes with its own complications due to the effects of the demyelination of the nerves and how it impairs the body’s ability to adjust to temperature changes. Because of that situation, nerve transmission requires much more energy to occur in the heat, which means that exposure to warm weather can worsen the symptoms of MS.

“Even the slightest changes in body temperature,  due to anything from exercise to a fever, can cause weakness and exhaustion.”

This can also create difficulties walking, swallowing and vision. “It’s important to remember that the increased symptoms that occur as a result of an elevation in temperatures does not contribute to the disease process.” Once your body temperature is back to normal, your symptoms should go back to normal.

Symptoms of being overheated:

  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Light-headedness
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Increased fatigue
  • Tremors

It’s important to remember these symptoms and triggers vary for each person.

“A brisk walk in 90-degree weather may be fine for some, as long as they avoid the sun and drink cold beverages. Others feel symptoms at lower temperatures and with less activity. In addition, symptoms may range in severity from annoying for some, to debilitating for others. Lastly, the return of normal body temperature is quicker for some and longer for others.”

Tips to manage the heat when you have MS: 

  • Use cooling vests, body and neck pillows, headbands, and hats
  • Cool off in a swimming pool (ideally between 80-84 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Use misting fans and cold water bottles
  • Cold, hydrating beverages and foods can help reduce body temperature
  • Choose light, loose-fitting clothing

Be sure to check out tips on preventing dehydration before you go out! It’s imperative to be aware of your own body and stay hydrated so that you can enjoy the outdoors too. 

How do you safely enjoy the great outdoors? Share your tips for staying cool and they may be featured.

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