Managing MS in hot weather
Heat is a well-known trigger of MS symptoms. How can people living with MS cope better during heatwaves?
With the UK-wide lack of air conditioning in homes, recent warm weather may have left many of us feeling tired and uncomfortable. However, for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), heatwaves can trigger symptoms and in rare cases even bring on a relapse.
The hottest temperatures are on their way this weekend, with an extreme weather warning set for the early part of the next week. These unstable and rapid changes in temperature and weather are predicted to continue and worsen in the coming years. We therefore, wanted to provide some pointers that you can return to anytime you may need, to help manage your symptoms.
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when temperatures are at their hottest, and open windows for ventilation when it is cooler. This is because a well-insulated home allows cool air to remain inside, keeping the hot air outside.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and do not go out between 11 am and 3 pm (the hottest part of the day).
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. Alternatively, you can use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter as they attract heat).
- Have cool baths or showers and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and diluted fruit juice. Avoid excess alcohol, caffeine (tea, coffee, and cola) or drinks high in sugar.
- Adequate fluid intake is essential to prevent dehydration, indeed too little fluid intake can potentially make you feel lethargic, experience brain fog, headaches and generally feel unwell. Drinking up to eight glasses of fluid a day can help flush out bacteria, help with good kidney function and a general feeling better in yourself.
- Listen to alerts on the radio, TV, and social media about keeping cool.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water, and any medications you need to avoid having to leave the house during the highest temperatures.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, a hat, and sunglasses if you go outdoors.
- Use cooling products, such as cool ties, fans, mats, and ice towels.
If you need help gaining access to equipment there is advice available through the NHS.