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MS and Summer: Coping with Symptom Flareups

Some may like it hot. But for those with multiple sclerosis, life gets more difficult when the temperature rises. More than three-fourths of people with MS are sensitive to heat.

As summer blazes, you might notice that you get tired more easily. Or, you may have trouble seeing or feel weak or shaky. It's probably worse when it's humid or when you try to exercise.

Doctors aren't sure why this happens. The temperature seems to affect how your nerves send messages to and from your brain. And some studies have found people with MS don't sweat as much, so their bodies can't cool down.

Beat the heat this summer with these tips:

  • Exercise indoors or in another cool area. Schedule outdoor activities in the early morning or late evening.

  • If you know you'll be in the heat, cool down first. In one study, even placing one hand in cool air beforehand helped people with MS exercise longer.

  • Avoid hot tubs and saunas.

  • Take a cool bath or a dip in the pool.

  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes. Or look for specially made cooling garments. Some cycle cool air over your skin. Others place ice packs near your body. You could also place ice packs directly to your armpits, neck, groin and back.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Stick to water and avoid drinks with caffeine and  alcohol, which dry you out.