By Alene Brennan
Just because you have MS doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the sun. MS or not, you want to enjoy summer vacations, barbeques and outdoor activities. So how can you achieve this without having the heat triggering or exacerbate your symptoms?
Check out these “accessories” that helped me manage MS during my mission trip to Haiti just one year after my diagnosis.
Refillable Water Bottle
When you’re properly hydrated, your body is better able to regulate your body temperature. It’s ideal to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. However, if that sounds like enough water to have you floating away, start small. Drink one more glass of water in your day for a week, and then increase it by another glass the next week.
I have a refillable water bottle with me at all times. It’s a constant reminder to take another sip. I even brought in on a plane with me. The key is to ensure it’s empty of any liquids while going through security. Once you’re in the airport terminal, you can fill up at the closest water fountain or restaurant. It also enables you to have more than just a tiny cup of water on the plane ride. (Worried about having to go to the bathroom? Check out this video for some bladder-friendly hydration tips.)
Beyond wearing light, loose-fitting clothes, add a cooling scarf to your attire. It may sound counter-intuitive to wear a scarf in the heat of summer but it can help to cool your entire body. I find this to be a great preventative step and one that is longer lasting.
Best of all, they have quite a few brands now that look equally as fashionable as they are functional. Here’s a picture of me on a mission trip in Haiti just one year after my MS diagnosis wearing a cooling scarf (and you can even see my pink water bottle in hand too!). You just need to make sure that you read the directions in advance because some brands you need to soak for a period of time before you wear them.
Instant Ice Packs
We know it doesn’t take long exposure or high temps to trigger MS heat sensitivity. The key is to recognize when the temperature is rising – either in your environment or your body – and respond accordingly.
My go-to remedy is an instant ice pack. I tuck one in my purse, gym bag and travel/beach bag so I always have one on hand. I love that I don’t need to travel with a bulky cooler to have an ice pack. When in need, just give it a squeeze and you have an instant ice to help cool you off in seconds.
These are just a few strategies that I’ve found helpful to manage the summer heat. What’s your go-to strategy? Post below.
*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!