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Beat the heat

15th January 2019

As the temperature starts to heat up leading into summer, you may notice your symptoms starting to flare up. Between 60-80 per cent of people with MS notice an increase in fatigue, blurred vision, loss of balance or problems with cognition when it gets hot.

In many people with MS, getting hot slows down the messages passing along nerves that have already been damaged by MS; and in others, there may be a lesion in a part of the brain that controls how the body reacts to temperature.

Symptoms caused by the heat are not permanent and you should feel better as your body cools down. If you’re feeling concerned or symptoms persist, contact your GP or MS nurse.

Follow these handy tips to keep cool in the summer months.

Keep your home cool

  • Use a fan, air conditioner or evaporative cooler.
  • Close curtains or blinds to help keep rooms cool.
  • Open up your doors and windows to cool breezes when available, especially at night.
  • Avoid cooking with ovens and cooktops—use the microwave or BBQ instead.
  • Invest in bed cooling systems such as cooling gel mattress pads, sheets and mattress toppers.
  • Be cautious if considering purchasing a latex mattress—these can be very hot to sleep on.

Keep your body cool

  • Wear lightweight, loose clothing (light colours can also help) and hats.
  • Spray your face and wrists with water from a plant mister.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, but limit caffeine which can interfere with sleep and increase fatigue.
  • Try small cooling aids such as cooling collars, hats, wrist and ankle bands, and wearable cooling clothes.
  • Rest during the hottest hours of the day and avoid outings in extremely hot weather.
  • Avoid direct hot sun, and park under cover or use a windscreen shield.
  • Try to visit places with air-conditioning like shopping centres, cinemas, libraries, or friends and family at their homes; or consider shopping online or using a delivery service.
  • Have regular cold drinks or suck an ice cube, icy pole or frozen fruit chunks.
  • Eat salads or other cold meals and/or sip iced water while eating.
  • Wear cooling garments such as vests to keep you cool during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Exercise in a cool or shady environment such as an air-conditioned room or a pool—exercise gently and rest often.
  • Take regular cool baths or showers.

Supports and resources

Medical Heating and Cooling Concession

For potential support for your energy bills visit sa.gov.au/concessions, or contact 1300 735 350.

Employment Assistance Fund

For help with cooling products in the workplace visit jobaccess.gov.au. This cost can be included in your NDIS plan.

Support during a heatwave

The Red Cross’ Telecross REDi service is a free service that calls people during a heatwave to check on their wellbeing. To register call 1800 188 071.

Free Advice

The Independent Living Centre provides free information on various products, brands and supplier contact details. Visit ilcaustralia.org.au, or contact (08) 8266 5260.

Cooling products

Our specialist occupational therapists can assist you to find the right cooling garments, small cooling aids and bed cooling systems to suit your needs, contact them through MS Assist. Suppliers of a range of products can also be contacted directly:

  • Tech Niche – technicheanz.com
  • Arctic Heat – arcticheat.com.au
  • Personal Cooling Products – personalcoolingproducts.com.au
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Beat the heat