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What is the Connection Between Multiple Sclerosis and Heat?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Multiple sclerosis and heat are not a good mix, as exposure to hot conditions tends to temporarily exacerbate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. In addition, high humidity can also be unpleasant for patients and in regions where the summers are hot and muggy, multiple sclerosis can be extremely uncomfortable. The conflict between multiple sclerosis and heat cannot be prevented, but there are some steps patients can take to feel more comfortable and beat the heat if they are in an unpleasant climate.

In patients with multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheaths covering the nerves are degraded, leading to problems with the conduction of signals through the nervous system. This can result in problems like tremors, decreased sensation, and difficulty walking. Studies on multiple sclerosis and heat show that the heat leads to declines in the efficiency of nerve conduction. In a patient with poor nerve conduction to begin with, this can cause numbness, weakness, and dizziness. It is important to be aware that heat does not cause permanent damage; it is merely an increase in the severity of symptoms as long as the patient is in the heat.

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Home cooling systems are recommended for multiple sclerosis patients in hot climates, and keeping activities scheduled for early morning and late afternoon or evening, when the heat will be less intense, can also be helpful. Cooling products like vests with pockets for ice packs can be beneficial and people who experience problems with multiple sclerosis and heat can also do things like drinking chilled drinks, eating cold food, and avoiding tasks requiring hot appliances during the hottest part of the day.

Heat intolerance can make it harder for multiple sclerosis patients to get around and stay active during hot times of the year. Applying for disabled parking placards is recommended, to allow people to park close to spots where they need to do errands so they don't exhaust themselves crossing the parking lot. Using a scooter can be helpful for patients who are usually ambulatory but want to reduce strain during the heat, and it's also possible to rent electric wheelchairs for use in hot weather for patients who experience significant mobility impairments as a result of their multiple sclerosis.

Patients concerned about multiple sclerosis and heat may also want to consider the possibility of moving to a more temperate climate. Some communities have relatively narrow temperature ranges and this can make people feel more comfortable.

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