Summertime Wellness – Tips for Managing Your Chronic Illness During Summer
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The summer months present additional challenges for those living with chronic conditions. The simple pleasures of summer activities that healthy people take for granted can often add stress to the lives of chronic disease patients. But with a bit of planning you too can enjoy your summer.
How Heat and Sunlight Can Affect You
Hot weather can exacerbate disease symptoms for many patients.
Multiple Sclerosis: Even a slight increase in your core temperature can trigger a temporary worsening of MS symptoms known as Uhthoff’s phenomenon or Uhthoff’s sign.
This short-lived (usually lasts less than 24 hours) neurological dysfunction typically manifests as optic neuritis and other visual symptoms. Still, it can also cause pain, fatigue, balance issues, weakness, and cognitive or sensory symptoms.
Autoimmune Conditions: Direct exposure to UV rays can result in symptom flare-ups for patients diagnosed with chronic autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.
Asthma and Allergies: Air quality during the summer months can worsen due to fires, excess dust, and other pollutants. Patients with asthma and chronic allergies can experience difficulty breathing because of poor air quality.
Tips to Overcome Summer Challenges
You may not be able to avoid flare-ups altogether during these summer months, but you can minimize them with a bit of planning.
Remember, you should take steps to implement self-care strategies through all the seasons. Then, when you plan for the expected health-challenging roadblocks, you will minimize reliance on others and increase your independence while staying socially engaged.
Avoid Extreme Heat
Changes in temperature and barometric pressure can trigger joint pain and exacerbate fatigue. To prevent these, make sure to plan outdoor activities early in the morning or close to sunset.
Carrying a hand-held fan or cool packs with you can also help keep you cool. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and stay indoors as much as possible during peak hours, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Consider installing a misting fan on your terrace or patio to cool the temperature while at home.
Boost Your Immune System by Eating Fresh Summer Fare
Summertime offers a bountiful feast of fruits and vegetables. So, make sure to include them in your diet; they will help boost your vitamin and mineral reserves while keeping you hydrated and nourished.
Make sure to ask your doctor which foods they recommend for your specific condition.
Monitor the Air Quality
Pay close attention to the air quality ratings in your area before you head outdoors. Studies show that air pollution increases inflammation in asthmatic patients and can also affect patients with MS.
You can check the air quality rating in your area by visiting Air Quality Index (AQI).
You Can Go on Vacation but Your Healthcare Shouldn’t
If you are planning a summer vacation or road trip, make sure to check in with your physician before you go. Ask for advice on how to minimize the risk of flare-ups and maximize your fun.
Ask your doctor for the best way to schedule your biologic treatment before or after your trip.
Your chronic condition should not prevent you from enjoying your summer. Instead, plan ahead to reduce stress and increase your enjoyment.