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MS and Summer: Coping with Symptom Flare-ups

Some may like it hot. But for those with multiple sclerosis (MS), life gets more difficult when the temperature rises. Up to 80% of people with MS are sensitive to heat and may have temporary worsening of symptoms during hot weather or with any increase in body temperature.

As summer blazes, you might notice that you get tired more easily, have blurred vision, muscle weakness, or feel 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.

  • Try pre- and post-cooling to decrease the effects of exercise.

  • Don't use 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 don't drink beverages with caffeine or alcohol, which dry you out. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2018
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.