By Cathy Chapman, MSA Coalition Patient Representative

Summer is a welcomed season after the long winter months. With warmer weather, it is important to protect yourselves from overheating, especially on days that are hot and humid. A common symptom in MSA is heat intolerance. This is caused by the body’s inability to sweat, making it difficult to regulate body temperature.

Ways to reduce body temperature

  1. Drink plenty of cool water. Drink at least eight glasses (or about two quarts) of water per day and more on hotter days. It is best to avoid drinks with sugar as they can increase dehydration, which increases body heat.
  2. Stay in a shaded area or indoors where air is cooler.
  3. Placing a cool, damp cloth on the back of the neck can help to keep body temperature cooler.
  4. Avoid hot baths or showers
  5. Wear light, breathable clothing, preferably cotton or linen.

NOTE: Certain medications may interfere with the body’s ability to respond to the hot weather, further complicating the problem. This includes vasoconstrictors such as decongestants, beta blockers for high blood pressure, diuretics, and antidepressants. It is best to check with your pharmacist first, about the medications you are taking.

A more serious complication of overheating is heatstroke. Look out for these symptoms:

  • Altered mental state (ex. confusion, agitation, irritability, seizures)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increase in heart rate.
  • Headache – can be throbbing in nature.

Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Until help can arrive, apply cool, wet towels to your neck, arm, and armpit. Always consult with your doctor regarding any symptoms you are experiencing with heat intolerance.