So, Victorians are in their bunkers, under onslaught from yet another period of extreme temperatures. Tomorrow (Sun 2nd Feb) is set to be 41 deg C where I am at present. After the experience with the heatwave of just a couple of weeks earlier some may still be looking for ideas of how to keep cool as the mercury rises.
Excessive heat is more than just an inconvenience, it can be a very real danger to health, and those of us with MS have a different reason to dread these extreme weather events: heat exacerbates the symptoms of many – if not most – of us with MS. We already have problems with nerve impulse transmissions in the areas of demyelination (where we’ve lost the protective covering of the nerves) and the heat slows down the transmission rate even further. Our everyday symptoms typically worsen and symptoms that we thought we’d well and truly recovered from return to torment and tease us during times of elevated temperatures. Just a tiny increase (sometimes even less than +0.5 deg) in the body’s core temperature is enough to cause these sorts of problems.
While the rest of population may be still struggling to find the best ways to keep their cool in these extreme temperatures we, through the experience of having to deal with just ‘everyday’ temperatures throughout the warmer seasons each year, are likely to have already hit upon something that works for us. A favourite I’ve had that’s been holding up well for years is one of those neck coolers that was DIY-ed by enclosing water-holding crystals in a fabric tube. For use, it gets dunked in water until the crystals swell to fill the tube in a jelly-like mass, and then slapped around the neck for hours of relief (they really do stay wet & functional for so much longer than cloths alone.) Cooling vests can be made in a similar manner, even hat liners and such.
If you haven’t yet found a good way to stay cool MS Australia has an expanded ‘Top 10 ways to beat the summer heat’ , and a couple of weeks ago the ABC website published Tanya Ha’s ‘26 tips to beat the heat without air-conditioning’ on their Environment pages. Both worth a read for ideas that are accessible and easy to accomplish, that can make a big difference to anyone’s level of comfort during these ever more frequent hot spells.