I look forward to summer every year. The sunshine, the leisure days, the popsicles and flip-flops! But as soon as summer hits, I am unpleasantly reminded that summer is hot. And heat is a mortal enemy for those with a chronic illness. Heat exacerbates existing symptoms, and can bring with it it’s own set, for those who are particularly heat-sensitive. It can increase pain, dizziness, nausea, palpitations, and fatigue. It can be dangerous, causing fainting and heat strokes!
Yet, we don’t have to be idle victims of the heat. By thinking proactively, we can develop a plan to beat the heat this summer! So without further ado, here are ten ways to survive the heat this summer:
1. Air Conditioning
The beauty of air-conditioning is that it can keep your environment at a consistent temperature. Or by turning the knob back and forth you can make it colder, then hotter; back and forth to suit the whims of your body chemistry. Putting in an AC unit, or purchasing a mobile one can be a bit of an expense, but it is thoroughly worth it. If the funds can’t be found, however, you can see if your Doc can write a prescription for the AC unit. Then it might be possible to write it off as a medical expense for taxes.
2. Ice Packs
Keep your freezer stocked with ice packs at all times. Whenever you go somewhere, be it to work, the doctor’s office, or to a graduation; bring a few ice packs in a small lunch cooler. When it starts to get hot, you can put one on your neck and be instantly cooler. You can use re-filled plastic water bottles in a pinch, but an ice pack will not ‘sweat’ as it melts.
To save on money, you could even make your own:
3. Strategically placed fans
I always have a fan right by my head when I sleep. If I get hot at night, I just have to reach over and switch it on. I don’t even have to get up. :) If you can afford it, buy a few fans to distribute around your house. Have one placed next to where you spend most of your time; such as the couch or at a desk. Have one for the bathroom, and one (or even two) for the bedroom. The advantage of fans over air conditioning, is that you can direct the artificial breeze to specific points of your body, whereas air conditioning blasts cold indiscriminately. This is helpful for illnesses such as Lyme disease, where one half of your body can be raging hot at the same time as the other half being ice cold.
Keeping a miniature fan in your purse for when you go out and about would be another great idea. If you start to overheat in the middle of a store or when you’re waiting in a doctor’s office, you can simply pull out the fan and have instant relief. :)
4. Cold Showers
As soon as the weather goes over 85 degrees (Fahrenheit, not Celsius), I ditch hot showers and go for cold. Or at least lukewarm. :) When it gets really hot, I’ll take three showers a day! One in the morning, and then again in the afternoon, and right before bed. This helps release all the hot air I’ve trapped in my body, and bring my temperature down. Showering can take up a lot of spoons (see: spoon theory), but you can conserve energy by keeping two of the showers to just rinsing off and leave the scrubbing for one shower. If standing is difficult, you could see about installing a bench or chair to relax as you rinse off.
5. Increase Water Intake!
When it comes to how much water you should drink, the answer is always “More!” Dehydration will bring on fatigue, nausea, and dizziness faster than you’d think. With the sun and heat of summer time, our bodies need even more water than it normally does. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, try an app for your phone or tablet that will remind you to drink water. (such as what is suggested in this post) I found it’s helpful to have a special cup for water that I can refill over and over again. :)
6. Stay in the Shade and Wear a Hat!
Staying out from under the sun will cut back on rising body temperatures. Staying indoors can accomplish this, but if you choose to go out for a little league game, or to lounge at the beach, it’s important to protect yourself. Sunscreen is great for protecting your skin, but a hat or umbrella can keep your temperature down as well. So make sure that a hat and sunglasses makes it on your list of things to pack for fun events this summer!
7. Mist and Spray
I have a spray bottle that I use at home whenever I get too hot. Just a quick spritz on my head and face, and it feels so good! You can carry a small one with you when you go places, or you could get a misting fan, and then you don’t have to add another thing to carry. :)
8. Frozen Treats
If your illness doesn’t allow for sugar in your diet, you can still have a number of frozen treats. Bags of frozen fruit can be purchased for cheap at a grocery store, then whizzed in a blender with yogurt or milk. Viola! Frozen treat. :) The same can be applied for green smoothies, simply freeze one of the ingredients (such as milk) in an ice cube tray before throwing it in the smoothie. Iced tea is another way to cool down with something tasty. :)
9. Plan Outings during the cooler hours
Schedule doctor’s appointments in the morning or in the late afternoon, avoiding the peak hours for heat. Save grocery shopping for after dinner, and take a nap in a cool room in the afternoon instead. Being out and about during the peak hours can increase risk for a heat stroke.
10. Save Hot Tasks for cool hours.
Tasks that will heat up the house should be saved for early morning or later evening. Running a dishwasher, cooking, vacuuming; any activity that produces heat will heat up the house and is better left to a time when it won’t overwhelm the temperature. Tasks that heat you up, such as a hot shower, hand-washing dishes, mopping, or exercise, should be done in the cool hours as well. This will save yourself the discomfort of overheating your body.
Well there you have it! You can now stay cool during the heat of the summer. :) If you have any tips to add to the list, comment below!