Tips for Staying Cool With Multiple Sclerosis

Try MS cooling vests, misting fans, neck wraps, and more

Young woman sitting at desk with fan
Image Source/Getty Images

In multiple sclerosis (MS), there is a classic phenomenon (called the Uhthoff phenomenon) in which a person's MS symptoms become worse as their body’s core temperature rises. In fact, even half of a degree is enough to start feeling unwell.

With that, cooling your body may give you relief from your MS symptoms. Aside from taking an ice cold shower and blasting the air conditioning, there are a number of cooling products you can use to prevent your body's temperature from rising when outdoors or during exercise.

Cooling Products to Help With MS Symptoms

Finding products to help cool you down can be difficult, but there are several great options out there. Learn about the different types of products that might work for you.

Cooling Vests for MS

Cooling vests are one popular means of cooling the body for people with MS, as well as athletes and those who work in very hot environments. These vests can vary from simple designs using ice packs to complex vests that require batteries.

Some of the most promising designs use special fabrics that prevent the body's temperature from rising. Consider whether your goal is to lower your body temperature or prevent overheating before you pick one out.

  • Ice Pack Vests: These vests use simple, re-freezable ice packs that are put into compartments in the vest. The effect can usually keep you cool for a few hours.  SteeleVest is a simple vest uses ice packs to keep you cool, and the effect lasts for two to four hours. Silver Eagle Outfitters has vests that use evaporation to cool the body. You just need to add water and it's ready to wear.
    • Evaporation/Chemical Vests: These vests use water or chemical reactions to absorb heat. Evaporation vests work best in low humidity settings. Chemical vests do not lower your temperature as much as the ice pack style.  Developed for firefighters and other professionals, First Line Technologies makes vests that use a chemical compound that absorbs heat at 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with the effect lasting about four hours. Also using a chemical compound, the Arctic Heat Cooling Vest cools without having to use the freezer or batteries, and it comes in a wide variety of sizes.
      • Active Cooling Vests: These vests use motorized devices to keep you cool for a longer period of time. Some require both water and ice. These are the most effective in cooling the body but can be bulky. Veskimo Personal Cooling Systems are made for long-term cooling—this system uses an outlet or batteries along with water and ice to keep you cool.

      Pools

      Swimming is one of the best exercises for MS because the water keeps your body temperature low. Endless Pools has size-efficient pools that function like a treadmill for swimmers. Of course, a cool bath or shower, or simply running cold water over your wrists, can be equally refreshing and much cheaper than purchasing a pool.

      Misting Fans

      Misting fans can lower the temperature outdoors by more than 20 degrees. This can be a great way to use a patio, deck, or pool area during hot weather without having to endure increased MS symptoms. These systems spray mist that cools through evaporation. In other words, you stay dry, but the air is cooled. In fact, many restaurants use these systems.

      Cooling Clothing and Accessories

      Cooling scarves, pillow cases, neck and wrist wraps, and headbands can give you mild-to-moderate relief from the heat. Polar Products has a nice selection.

      MS Cooling Resources

      The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) has a program that distributes cooling devices to people in need. In addition, the MS Cooling Foundation is dedicated to educating people with MS on the benefits of cooling. They have resources and links to other cooling products, as well

      A Word From Verywell

      It's important to keep in mind that while the heat is uncomfortable and may worsen your MS symptoms, the effect is not permanent. As soon as your body cools down, your symptoms should go away. In other words, this phenomenon is short-lived and reversible.

      In addition, sometimes very simple measures are all you need to beat the heat and feel well.

      These include wearing a hat and loose-fitted cotton clothing, opting for the shade instead of the beating sun, and drinking cold water regularly throughout the day.

      Source:

      Davis SL, Wilson TE, White AT, Frohman EM. Thermoregulation in multiple sclerosis. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2010 Nov;109(5):1531-37.

      Continue Reading