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It’s Summer Time

By Shambrekiá Wise

I don’t know where you are, but where I am, we are already flirting with 100-degree days and we just welcomed summer to the party. As the summer sun starts to shine brightly and temperatures soar, it's important for individuals with multiple sclerosis to take extra precautions to manage our symptoms effectively. For many, the heat and humidity of the summer months can potentially exacerbate MS symptoms and affect our overall well-being. For me specifically, this can lead to bouts of fatigue that almost seem never-ending. This month, I’m offering some valuable tips and strategies for navigating the season and enjoying the warmth while still keeping those MS symptoms under control.

Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is crucial for everyone during the summer, but it holds particular importance for individuals with MS. Proper hydration helps regulate body temperature, reduces fatigue, and aids in combating common MS symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Always carry a water bottle with you and aim to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day. If you struggle with staying hydrated, consider setting reminders or using smartphone apps to track your water intake. One of my favorite finds on Amazon, which helps me remember to hydrate regularly, is now 50 percent off. But, if you prefer more of a techy approach, then check out this Bluetooth water bottle by Hidrate Spark Pro. 

Beat the heat: We can’t stop the heat, but we can do our best to curb our exposure. Seek out air-conditioned environments – such as shopping malls, libraries, or community centers – during the hottest parts of the day. If you're spending time outdoors, try to schedule activities early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are (hopefully) cooler. Cooling accessories – such as cooling vests, neck wraps, and cooling towels – can provide relief and help regulate body temperature. There are several cooling programs available through organizations such as MS Focus.

Protect yourself from the sun: Protect yourself by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin, a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face, and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don't forget to apply sunscreen with a high SPF to exposed skin, even on cloudy days. Sunburns can increase fatigue and exacerbate MS symptoms, so it's essential to take these precautions. I find that I get both style and functionality in UnderArmour HeatGear and what it doesn’t cover, one of these sunscreens can.

Maintain a healthy diet: A nutritious diet plays a vital role in managing MS symptoms year-round. During the summer, focus on consuming cooling foods such as fruits, vegetables, salads, and smoothies. These foods can help hydrate your body while providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Avoid excessive consumption of processed and sugary foods, as they can contribute to inflammation and fatigue. I know that in the south, barbeque can be quite popular, so check out a healthier spin on this cuisine with an extremely tasty and highly anti-inflammatory menu. If barbeque is not your thing, check out this list and create a healthy menu all summer long.

Seek support and stay connected: Summer can bring social events and gatherings, but it's essential to be mindful of your energy levels and limitations. Communicate your needs and limitations to friends and family, ensuring they understand your condition. Seek support from local MS support groups or online communities, where you can connect with others who understand your experiences. Sharing experiences, tips, and emotional support can make a significant difference in managing MS during the summer.

While the hotter months can present challenges for individuals with MS, proper planning, self-care, and awareness can help make this time enjoyable and manageable. By taking these steps, you can still have fun while effectively managing your MS symptoms, promoting your overall well-being, and making lasting memories all summer long.