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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Ideological Inconvenience

I don't like to talk about this, but my family has been in the petroleum production business since the 1920's; it used to be mostly oil, now it's almost all natural gas, all in Texas. My grandfather, my father, and my brother all work or worked in the "oil bidness" We're by no means wealthy but some of my income still derives from that.  So I obviously have a vested interest in the profits of the petroleum business.

That being said, it is what it is. Burning fossil fuels has obviously contributed to the climate change we've seen since the 19th Century. 
But we have alternatives, and we can choose. After all, we can protest , call our representatives, send letters and VOTE, whereas polar bears and melting glaciers cannot.

Average Temperatures in Austin, Texas from the beginning of 2nd Industrial Revolution(c 1850) to 2010.
I compiled a chart (above) showing the slow but steady increase in average temperatures here in Austin, Texas,  for each decade from the 1850's, which is considered to be the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution,  through 2010. What I didn't show is that, so far in 2011, the average temperature has been MUCH higher. 

I don't know how representative Austin's averages are, but in general it is a fact that global temps are climbing well  beyond normal variations. 
 Photo from LM Otero/AP for TIME Magazine: Possum Kingdom, Texas, April 19, 2011-                              A House burns in an area near  Fort Worth, one of several dozen sites where fires are burning in Texas.
Not to mention that millions of acres of Texas are or have just been on fire.
Meanwhile, I can't find any evidence anywhere that people afflicted with severe heat intolerance have evolved any increased ability to tolerate the increase in heat, nor is there any preventive medical treatment. It's just what happens when we get too warm, so we have a greater-than-average vested personal physical interest in halting and reversing global warming. Aside from more tolerable temperatures as opposed to less, improved air quality is another HUGE plus that would follow a steady decrease in greenhouse gases.....if we can ever manage to shout down the vested interests. 

President Obama (whose father-in-law had MS by the way), has tried repeatedly to explain the obvious need to expand and develop clean energy sources, both for reasons of environmental quality and of national security, but again, those vested interests will do and say anything to derail that effort. I'm not optimistic but I can't give up altogether. 
I realize that there aren't enough MS patients in the world to change this by ourselves, but we are more voices, almost  a half million in the USA alone, and we might as well make ourselves heard, and our situation known. It's important to ALL of us and cannot wait.

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