Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and temperatures are rising so many of us are ready to start heading outside and enjoying the warm weather. However, for those of us living with MS, rising temperatures may not feel as good for us as it might for others.
While MS is a relapse-remit disease, a rise in temperature can be a harmful trigger that causes a relapse of symptoms. As the temperatures begin to rise due to warmer months and climate change, it is important for MS patients to stay vigilant in regulating their body temperature.
A recent study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that there is a correlation between rising temperatures due to climate change and increased hospital visits of MS patients.
Researchers looked at data on more than 106,000 Americans with MS and estimated that stretches of unusually warm weather were associated with 592 more ER visits, 1,260 more inpatient visits, and 1,960 more outpatient visits. During those periods, Multiple Sclerosis patients were 4% more likely to visit the emergency room than during normal weather patterns, the study found.
They also had 3% higher odds of having an in-person medical visit and were 1% more likely to have an outpatient visit.
This correlation is increasingly concerning for Black patients who tend to live in urban areas with poor infrastructure. Black, Brown, and low-income neighborhoods tend to be warmer due to construction materials (brick, concrete, etc.), lack of greenery in neighborhoods, and proximity to manufacturing plants that release carbon dioxide into the air.
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While high temperatures can be unpleasant for all, these temperatures cause severe discomfort and pain for Multiple Sclerosis patients. However, there are measures that patients can take to help regulate their body temperature during warmer months:
Be Flexible with Your Daily Routine: Avoiding heat does not mean staying inside the house 24/7. Instead, this may mean adjusting parts of your routine to avoid the warmest parts of your day. Still need to go outside to exercise? Take your daily walk earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the warmest parts of the day.