For many individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), seasonal changes can have an abrupt impact on symptoms. Heat and humidity are triggers for MS symptoms, from fatigue to blurry vision. In fact, nearly three-fourths of respondents from Health Union’s syndicated Multiple Sclerosis In America 2020 survey of more than 5,000 people living with the condition identified heat as a trigger, as well as the most prominent trigger, for their MS symptoms. On top of that, six in 10 identified heat intolerance or heat sensitivity as a recent standalone symptom.
Heat-induced symptom aggravation is temporary but can result from changes as little as a quarter degree elevation in core body temperature. Better understanding how the heat can impact the patient journeys of people living with MS- can help healthcare marketers decide how they can potentially alleviate a prominent challenge of living with the condition. Perspectives from people participating in Health Union’s MS community, MultipleSclerosis.net, illuminate three particular areas for growth or greater understanding when it comes to alleviating the impact of heat on MS.
The Significant Impact of Simple Devices
Individuals can use numerous devices to help manage heat-related symptom aggravation, such as ice packs and misters. MultipleSclerosis.net patient advocate Calie Wyatt writes about cooling vests that can be worn while out and about, cooling towels, and bringing a handheld fan with her.
Another simple device that people can use is the humble water bottle. Maintaining hydration throughout the day can help negate heat-related MS symptoms. The variety of cooling objects shows the potential for innovation and invention to work with different lifestyles. From evaporation cooling vests, to ice cooling vests, there’s a myriad of opportunities.
Another way to manage symptoms is to help individuals try to stay compliant with their medication. Many individuals have to manage multiple medications, and pill organizers can be extremely helpful, enabling maximum compliance. Small changes can make a big difference, and provide peace of mind to people with MS, assuring they’re following their medication regimens to the best of their abilities.
Apps Can Help Patients Plan Ahead
Weather apps are a great way to plan ahead. Individuals can check their phones before leaving the house to see if they need to bring any cooling devices, make sure they have access to AC, and bring water with them.
There are also apps that can help track symptoms, medications, and sleep regimens. Apps for general chronic conditions can be used to track activity level and heart rate. Some other programs can even track symptoms, medication schedules, and diet plans. MS-specific apps can be used to record MS-specific symptoms like fatigue and joint pain, and tend to have a journal section. Users can also keep track of appointments, and access educational resources.
Sleep is also vitally important to overall health. By maintaining healthy habits, like sleep, it may bolster an individual’s overall wellbeing. Apps that promote sleep include ones that play white noise, relaxing nature sounds, and more. Other apps to promote sleep can shift blue light to more yellow light. This allows melatonin to be released and may promote better sleep. Apps can also track sleep and napping habits and gently wake individuals up at the optimal time in their sleep cycle.