Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Health: MS and the Seasons

Changing Season Affect Those With Multiple Sclerosis

Tips to Help Calm Season-Triggered Exasperations


Ah, the lazy days of summer often involves outdoor activities, except for those living with MS.  The heat can exacerbate our symptoms.  Actually, each season brings challenges we must face.  However, for every challenge I have found solutions, or at least methods for making the most of a bad situation.   

Stay warm and limber during the winter with these tips. 

The winter chill can be difficult for many people, not just those with MS.  Older people tend to have arthritis and may often feel stiff and sore.   Since I'm older and have MS, that handily describes me--stiff and sore.  Fold in weakness in my arms and legs and the description is complete.

Therefore, in winter, I keep the house a constant 75 degrees to keep warm.  Warmer temperatures or heavy clothing can cause my symptoms to flare up.  Additionally, after a half-hour of yoga to stay limber and strong, I don weatherproof clothing and ride my three-wheel cycle in the morning when my energy level is highest.     

Drink hot tea. 

Besides keeping warm and exercising, drinking hot green tea helps me maintain my body temperature.  It also has added health benefits.   

Don't allow the temperature fluctuations of spring to zap your strength.   

Temperature fluctuations tend to be more debilitating than a constant hot or cold.  Here in my part of California, daytime temperatures can fluctuate nearly 50 degrees.  It is quite common to begin the day at 40 degrees and finish at 85 degrees in the evening. For the most part, I experience the typical stiffness and fatigue.  However, this fluctuation can also cause an autoimmune system response, as if I'm catching a cold or flu.  Thus, it is very important that I, and others with MS, stabilize our body temperature.   

To do this, I dress for the temperature of the moment, not for the day. I also drink hot tea during the cold moments and iced water when the thermometer rises.   

Cooling neck wraps, modifying daily activities, and cold drinks fight summer heat issues.

I know summer has arrived when my legs stiffen up, my mind fogs, and I'm fatigued to the bone.  Performing outside chores and heavy mental activities during the cool of the morning is imperative, as is keeping the house cool.   However, if I need to be outside, I use a crystal-filled neck wrap that when wet stays cold for hours. I also switch my green tea from hot to cold and drink plenty of iced water.  Additionally, in order to enjoy the evening, I indulge in afternoon naps.   

Fight a battled immune system with diet, rest, and hand sanitizers in autumn. 

Colorful leaves and cooling days after a long hot summer made autumn my favorite season when I was younger.  Today, it is my nemesis.  Much like spring, the temperature fluctuates widely causing me to hurt all over and trigger that familiar feeling of impending flu.  Worse yet, it is the beginning of flu season.  With my weakened immune system, I am a perfect target.  Consequently, I fortify myself with multivitamins, additional doses of vitamin D, and zinc.  I supplement this with my favorite snack -- high in vitamin C -- pineapple.

Beyond food and vitamins to keep me feeling and being well, I dress for the moment, get plenty of rest, and use hand sanitizers often when in public.  


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