Most MS patients have HEAT INTOLERANCE, and respectfully submit that IT'S EFFING HOT ENOUGH! Man-made climate change (global warming) just makes this worse.

About Heat Intolerance and Multiple Sclerosis

Heat intolerance (or anhidrosis) is a classic symptom of MS, shared to some degree (no pun intended) by about 80% of all MS patients.

Typically, when an MS patient experiences a rise in core body temperature of as little as one-quarter to one-half of a degree, whether internally or externally, there is a temporary increase in MS symptoms.

What causes heat Intolerance in MS?

MS involves the destruction of myelin, the protective sheath surrounding and protecting the nerve fibers, causing the formation of plaques on the nerves, which in turn slow the nerve impulses.

A build-up of heat slows down nerve transmission further, causing symptoms to generally worsen.

A subtle rise in body temperature can be caused by exertion (such as running or other physical exercise), or running a fever, or immersion in hot water such as warm/hot baths, showers, or hot tubs.

Again, these temporary changes can result from the slightest rise in core body temperature, as little as one-quarter to one-half of a degree, because an elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.

What are the symptoms of heat intolerance?

Some people notice that their vision becomes blurred when they get overheated; other symptoms that may worsen include difficulty walking, speaking, or concentrating.

Many report an increase in fatigue or tremor.

Overheating is such a predictable issue for MS patients that, for many years, the ‘Hot Bath’ test was used to diagnose MS; a person suspected of having MS was immersed in a hot tub of water, and the inevitable appearance of (or worsening of) neurological symptoms (such as profound weakness) was taken as evidence that the person had MS.

The "hot bath test" was obviously easier on the patient than the usual spinal tap, and cheaper than the diagnostic MRI, but it's rarely employed these days. And even when it was, it sometimes caused complications. All of which means that, for many MS patients, getting overheated can lead to staggering, if you can walk at all.

In really bad cases, attempts to explain one's seemingly "tipsy" behavior are made difficult-to- impossible because speech can become slurred also, as well as the ability to write legibly, none of which helps establish the fact of sobriety...
Some of us who are seriously affected by the heat carry MS ID cards, which list the possible effects and symptoms of MS, in case of incapacitation
(heat-induced or otherwise) in public.

To avoid these situations, most of us tend to stay in the air conditioning in warm months where that option exists, so obviously indoor hobbies become more important. Some also wear special cooling vests. I keep a variety of ice packs around.

Get Overheated and get Arrested for Public Intoxication!

Seriously, an MS patient I know well has had the unpleasant experience of having had the police called on her several times when she became overheated in public and onlookers assumed she was intoxicated. This sort of thing can happen to diabetics, but not many people realize that the same thing can happen to MS patients. It must have been awful to find oneself not only sick & incapacitated by the Texas heat, utterly unable to demonstrate sobriety despite being completely sober, but having to also deal with the disapproving faces of strangers presuming drunkenness. This only adds insult to injury.

Heat is just not a very good friend to most MS patients. And Global Warming just makes it worse, especially when Summer begins to roll around earlier and hotter each decade than the last.

No kidding, this has gotta stop, not just for the sake of people with heat intolerance, but for all of us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This is perfectly ridiculous. As I write this, I've already had heat exhaustion twice this year, and it's only mid-spring; April 18th to be exact.  At the moment, it's 3:20pm CDT and the Weather Bureau says the temperature is 93 degrees. (Update: we hit 96 degrees F about a week later, with a heat index > 100.)
Temperature Graph for the Month of April, 2011 for Austin, Texas (click on image to enlarge)
Needless to say, the Spring wildflowers are already completely fried, and over 1.5  million acres of Texas are (or have recently been) literally on fire, and it's nowhere near summer.  
Photo by LM Otero of AP for TIME. Smoke Rising-
Wildfires burn near Possum Kingdom, Texas, April 19, 2011.
At this rate, by July we'll  spontaneously combust.  This is really depressing, and way too early to have to start hiding inside with the a/c!

  It's too effing HOT!

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