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Beat the Heat: Reduce MS Symptom Flares

By Daryl H. Bryant (727 words)
Posted in Living with MS on July 16, 2015

There are (3) comments permalink

Beat the Heat: Reduce MS Symptom Flares

High summer temperatures and blazing hot afternoons in the sun can cause MS symptoms to flare up and act up, which can really put a damper on your summer plans. If you are heat sensitive, then you are familiar with what can happen to your MS symptoms when you get too hot.

The difference between heat sensitive flare-ups and a true relapse of symptoms is that the flaring symptoms will disappear once your body returns to a cool and comfortable temperature. These flare ups can cause you to feel fatigued, give you a mental fogginess, and it can cause numbness throughout your body.

In order to reduce MS symptom flares, you can beat the heat and stay cool with these helpful tips.

Dress Cool

Just because the weather may not agree with you does not mean you can’t go outside at all during the summer. You just need to dress appropriately. Light colored clothing, loose garments, a comfortable wide-brimmed hats are your best bet for staying cool and comfortable. Remember to stay inside during the peak afternoon hours when it’s hottest, but during the early morning and dusk hours you can get your fill of summer in. This way, you’ll still be able to soak up a little sun and get a healthy serving of Vitamin D, which is essential for MS.

Cooling Gadgets

On top of dressing cool, there are a multitude of gadgets out there aimed at keeping your heat-sensitive MS symptoms at bay. Cooling vests are great, especially if you enjoy exercising outdoors, as they’ll keep your body’s core temperature cool, which will decrease your risk for symptom outbreaks. These vests are filled with re-freezable slurry packs, which means you can take them with you on the go and wear them until they melt.

For short trips outside or leisurely walks through the neighborhood, a cool damp towel will work just as well. Consider carrying 1 or 2 with you as you walk so you can change them out when one gets too warm. Ice packs are also a great substitute.

Snack Smart

Drinking plenty of cool fluids is your best bet at staying cool this summer, but there are plenty of snack foods you can imbibe in – and even treat yourself with! – that will help reduce your body temperature. Popsicles and ice cream are favorite summertime treats that will keep your cool, but if you want to stay healthy, simply throw your fresh fruit in the freezer overnight and bring it with you on your next outdoor adventure.

The frozen fruits are not only a great way to cool down, they will also keep you hydrated, which is extremely important when the summer temperatures get this high. Always remember to drink plenty of cool water while you’re outside, and don’t chug it. Take slow, purposeful drinks of water to avoid feeling nauseated.

Consider a Pre-Cool Down

“Pre-Cooling” is a method you can use to reduce your core temperature before you even step outside. This can help keep you cool for longer as it will take longer for your body temperature to rise. This is especially helpful if you plan on being outside for a long period of time or have plans to be outdoors all day long. Take a cool bath or shower first thing in the morning before you head outside.

If you have the time, definitely take a bath as submerging your body in cooler water will be the best bet for you and your symptoms. Make sure the bath water isn’t ice cold. You will want to start with a lukewarm bath and slowly add cooler water every 20 minutes or so in order to slowly decrease your body temperature without shocking your system.


While the summer can make your symptoms worse, there are many ways to reduce MS symptoms flares. Remember, even if your symptoms flare-up this summer, they are only temporary and will disappear once your body temperature returns to normal. Heat sensitive reactions to your MS will not make your experience with the disease any worse. No nerves or myelin are destroyed during heat-induced flare-ups; your body is simply reacting to the discomfort of the heat.

If you feel your symptoms flaring up while your outdoors, head to an air-conditioned place quickly or drink some cool water. This will quickly bring body temperature down and reduce your MS symptom flares.

Comments (3)

robbi shults posted on: July 17, 2015

This was a very helpful article, full of wonderful suggestions. As heat does a real number on me, I have learned many of these by trial and error. I can always use help

TL Sment posted on: July 18, 2015

Find your 'core' cool down spots. Hint, its usually where you put your hands when they are very cold. When your getting too hot put something cold or cool in that spot or spots. It works, give it a try...

FC posted on: August 13, 2015

Cooling vests tend to be very heavy and don't work well. Cooling scarfs or wraps on the neck, wrists, head and ankles work far better. Even a hat soaked in water can be helpful.

Frozen fruit is a great thing to keep on hand every day either to eat as is or make into a smoothie. If you like coffee or tea through the day, make it the night before and put it in the fridge so you can have ice coffee or ice tea the next day. You can also freeze fruit juice in ice cube trays to make a slushy.

For protein, it's helpful to cook a larger batch of meat (or casseroles, etc.) on cool days and then freeze it in small portions for easy access on hot days. Then you don't have to turn the oven on when it's too hot. Or you can put your slow cooker outside to make your meal, keeping the extra heat outside instead of in your kitchen.

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