Keeping it Cool
I’m optimistic that it will be warm again sometime soon (please!), and I am therefore anticipating breaking out my cooling gear again! For many MS sufferers heat brings on symptoms and generally makes us feel terrible. But why is that?
Demyelinated nerves that have been damaged by MS cause relapses. During these relapses we experience new symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and nerve pain. Between relapses there are usually periods of remission in which symptoms improve or disappear all together. However, even though you feel better the nerves are sill damaged and require more effort than normal to conduct their electrical impulses. Heat and humidity make it even harder for these nerves to work by slowing the impulses even further which is why Uhtoff’s Phenomenon and pseudoexacerbations can occur.
As someone who has been fairly athletic most of their life, and as a person who regularly visits the beach (oh wait I live in Jersey now, so I go to the shore) I quickly got acquainted with cooling gear. There are so many products, both homemade and store bought that can help. I personally don’t go for the cooling vests because they are bulky and obvious. If you have found one that you like let me know!
Here are a few of the things that I have tried and liked so far:
#1: Cooling Towels. These are becoming available everywhere and are very popular among football players and competitive athletes. I picked mine up at Sports Authority, and drape them around my neck while using the stationary bike at my gym.
#2: Cooling Arm Sleeves. These things are ridiculous. Get them. I wear them to work with my scrubs, and while I’m at the gym. In fact, they work so well that I sent them to my best friend who is deployed and enduring 105+ degree heat daily.
#3: Swimming. I was on a swim team as a kid and quit because I hate cold water. Now I swim because of the cold water…what a twist!
#4: Homemade Cooling pack. You combine 1 part rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water (i.e. 1 cup rubbing alcohol + 3 cups of water). You can make these in Ziploc bags, store them in your freezer, and take them out when you need them. The combination of alcohol and water gets cold but doesn’t freeze solid, resulting in a slushy material that stays cold for 1-2 hours. Last summer I took them to the pool or used them after a workout session.
#5: Hydrate. It’s true, you should drink water…and then drink more water. If going outside on a hot day is an unavoidable reality, keep hydrating yourself!
Another nursing trick: when a patient is overheated we place ice packs in the persons armpits, groin, and on the back of the neck. These areas help bring the bodies core temperature down fastest.
How about you guys, what have you tried?
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