Summertime & the livin’ is… HOT! Depending on where you are in the world, it’s starting to get pretty hot and humid outside. If you’re anything like me, heat intolerance and autoimmune disease is a real bummer.
The Nitty Gritty Research
To get us started, let’s refer to the facts and the science. One of the studies I found, looks at sensation and habituation in autoimmune patients. The gist of the study talks about the difference between getting used to a feeling and not being able to tolerate that same feeling. A sensation you are usually able to get used to doesn’t happen with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Pain patients. That sensation actually increases!
This leads to an increase in chronic pain and the inability to regulate and tolerate a variety of symptoms: pain, fatigue, depression, temperature, anxiety, etc. What does that mean? Simply stated, autoimmune diseases can cause our bodies to stop paying attention to normal sensations. For me, this is a huge symptom and probably one of my worst side effects!
Environmental Factors & Heat
Personally, temperature and weather are probably the most staggering environmental factors to the symptoms of my own autoimmune diseases. In fact, I have severe heat intolerance and end up getting flu-like symptoms if the temperature is more than 70°F. My medications also cause sun sensitivity, so even with a strong sunscreen, I end up burning easily. Fun, right? Not to fear – there are a lot of fun, easy, and comforting ways to stay cool in that seasonal heat!
Tools To Stay Cool
First and foremost, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the summer sun! It depends on your individual situation, and please don’t do anything that makes you feel worse or exacerbates your symptoms. If unsure about certain scenarios, medication side effects, or questions particular to you, always reach out to your physician or care team. Preparing with easy tools can help lessen the impact of heat intolerance and autoimmune disease. Here are some things to add to your arsenal:
- Koldtec Neck Cooling Ice Packs
- Water, Water, Water (Have you read our post on proper Summer hydration?)
- Portable Fans
- Staying In The Shade
- Wear Cotton Materials In Cooler Colors
Don’t forget to pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. And try not to feel like you’re missing out or need to push through for the benefit of others. At the end of the day, your health and wellness are the first priority. Stay well, stay cool, stay hydrated!
- Smith, B. W., Tooley, E. M., Montague, E. Q., Robinson, A. E., Cosper, C. J., & Mullins, P. G. (2008). Habituation and sensitization to heat and cold pain in women with fibromyalgia and healthy controls. Pain, 140420-428. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2008.09.018