Saturday, July 26, 2008

Heat, MS and Attitude.

Ahhh...summer. Family gatherings, BBQing with friends, outdoor activities and HEAT. For people with MS, summer also means experiencing more symptoms. Not all MS patients are affected by the temperature, (remember NOTHING is absolute, and not every patient has every symptom or problem) but quite a few are. In fact, heat sensitivity is a very common thread in MS. Hot tubs, humidity, stuffy rooms, and even a fever can cause symptoms to flare. For me, too much heat, my left leg is affected along with my hands. Balance becomes an issue and I tend to start dropping things much more readily. Fortunately, most of the discomfort can be minimized or avoided all together.

The most obvious way to avoid heat related symptoms is to simply stay indoors in an air conditioned environment when it's hot. Plan your outdoor activities and errands in the morning or evening hours when it's cooler. If air conditioning isn't available make sure you keep windows open for air circulation and use fans if at all possible. Take cool showers or baths. Before you get into your car on a hot day, start the car, turn the air on and let the interior cool down before you get into the car for your drive. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day EVERYDAY no matter what the temperature is. Being dehydrated makes it more difficult for your body to regulate it's own temperature and more likely other health problems as well.

There are also devices available such as cooling vests that can be worn to help keep your body temperature down. I've added a link to a few sites for you to review regarding cooling vests as well for a link for a web site for active MSers.

For exercise try swimming. You won't overheat in a pool! Just remember to wear sunscreen!

Remember, it's important to stay active. It keeps us moving and healthy. The biggest challenge most of us will face when dealing with MS is our OWN ATTITUDE. It's easy to get frustrated when you can't do what you want to do, when you want to do it, or how you USED to do it. It's hard to accept that we may have a new limitation or challenge. However, it's really about mindset. You can still do the things you enjoy doing, you may just have to do them at a different time of day or in different way.

You do not have the ability to control your MS, but you DO have the ability to take control of HOW you deal with MS and that starts with a basic conscious decision. YOU make the decision to live your LIFE or live the disease. It's that simple and that complex.

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