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What's Hot & What's Not.

Ways to Cure the Summertime Blues

OVER THE YEARS, people with MS, their health-care providers, and researchers alike have come up with numerous methods for staying cool enough to avoid worsening of symptoms in the summer. But the best advice is to do whatever works for you. You know your own limits and vulnerabilities better than anyone.

* Allow the body's own cooling to work as effectively as possible. Heat is lost in two ways--by perspiration with evaporation, and by the dilation of capillaries in the skin. Wear cotton clothes that have short sleeves and are open at the throat. Drink lots of fluids to encourage perspiration and to replenish fluid that your body has lost (sports drinks or diluted fruit juice may help reduce muscle cramping). Some people like personal fans, ice packs, or spray bottles.

* When possible, stay out of the heat. Follow the weather conditions in your locality, paying special attention to the thermal stress index (also called the comfort index or the temperature index), which monitors the combination of temperature and relative humidity. Wind can also be a factor, because it helps to evaporate perspiration and has a cooling effect. Avoid direct sun and hot enclosed places like parked cars.

* If you must go outside in hot weather, there are specially made clothing items that can help you stay cool, or, more accurately, that absorb heat. These are based on three different principles. One uses ice packs (for example, the Steele-vest; 1-888-STEELEV, or <>). Another type (CoolSport; 310-618-1590, or <www.>) has a coolant that changes from solid to liquid at 65 degrees, rather than at 32 degrees like ice to water. The third (Body Cooler; 1-800-209-2665, or <www.bodycooler. com>) is soaked in water, which it absorbs and then releases slowly. The evaporation of this released moisture has a cooling effect like the evaporation of perspiration, though its effectiveness is much diminished in high humidity.

* If you get overheated, suck on ice cubes. Take a cool bath or head for the swimming pool, though this can be counterproductive if it's too cold, because the capillaries in the skin constrict and inhibit heat exchange. And never underestimate the power of air conditioning, which can even be tax deductible if you get your doctor to write you a prescription for it.
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Title Annotation:how to stay cool in summer
Publication:Inside MS
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2000
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