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    You are here : Home » About MS » Multiple Sclerosis Treatments » MS Health Tips » Managing Body Temperature

    Managing Body Temperature

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    Keeping CoolFurther Information

  • Cooling Products
  • Air Conditioning Therapy
  • Health Consequences
  • Research into Cooling And Thermo-Regulation
  • Heat and Multiple Sclerosis - What's Happening?
    In demyelinated nerve fibres, heat slows down or even stops the electric current making MS symptoms worse.

    It doesn't just happen in a sultry summer. You can overheat in the winter too if it's a humid or a room is too hot.

    What Is 'Core Body Temperature?'

    It is the core temperature, the heat deep in the body, that makes the difference in nerve conduction.

    Just lowering the core body temperature by one degree F can make a huge difference to what you can or cannot do.

    The Hot Bath Test
    Years ago, the 'Hot Bath' test was used to diagnose MS. You were put in a bath with a water temperature of 104 degrees F, and kept there for 15 minutes. If neurological symptoms worsened, the chances were you had MS. The trouble was, the hot bath made MS worse. It was also an unreliable diagnostic test and is no longer used for this purpose.

    Research into MS and Cooling
    Kay Vanderhoff, a clinical nurse at the Bernard W. Gimbel Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center in New Jersey, USA, has been observing the effects of cooling vests. She says: "Cooling devices appear to provide an increased sense of well being to some people with MS." Those who benefited experienced measurable increases in grip strength and walking speed. All those taking part reported feelings of increased weakness once the effects of the cooling wore off.

    One Degree Over

    American doctor Robert F. Goldberger, who has MS, discovered that when he got hot from the weather or a fever, his strength was dramatically reduced. "Just one-and-a-half degrees of elevation in body temperature had been enough to lay me flat," he said. But when he took a long, cool shower his strength almost miraculously returned.

    Symptom Relief

    Cooling can improve the following MS symptoms:

  • Fatigue 
  • Dexterity
  • Mobility
  • Balance
  • Speech Difficultiesand Cognitive function

  • Are You Responsive to Cooling?

    Around 80% of those with MS do respond to cooling. But 20% don't. That's why it's important to have a home trial of a cool suit before deciding to buy.

    It seems to make no difference what type of MS you have, how long you have had MS, or how old or young you are.

    Other tips to keep your cool

    • Wear cotton or silk, rather than man-made fibres like polyester.
    • Eat cool foods. Cucumbers really are cool.
    • Drink chilled fluids. Nothing beats iced water.
    • There are plenty of cooling products on the market. Try things with aloe, cucumber, menthol.
    • Cool showers. Start with warm water and gradually turn to cool.
    • Cool down after exercise.
    • Make your own personal cooling system using thermal bags containing `blue ice' gel packs.

    Water works better than air

    Cool water works better than air. So a cold shower or a swim in tepid water is a faster way of getting your temperature down than sitting in an air-conditioned room.

    Microclimate cooling for MS - How It All Started!
    Microclimate cooling for MS is an offshoot of the US space programme. It was originally designed to keep astronauts cool. Then an aerospace engineer with MS called Jerry realised it could be useful for MS too.

    Using it every day for several years, his formerly debilitating fatigue has gone.

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC) 

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