The battle of thermoregulation


A battle everyone in Britain will be facing today but one that us MSers have pretty much every day.

“My body’s thermostat is broken”

It’s the easiest way I’ve found to try and explain to people why I overheat in a perfectly reasonably heated room or when they are all saying it’s cold. If they need more detail I’ll try and get them to understand that our already damaged nerves can’t cope with the temperature change just like a computer overheating and either crashing or slowing to a crawl. There’s lots of information around on it like the National MS Society and the MS Trust if you want to read up.

So me? I’ve never coped well with heat. Heat stroke, headaches and sunburn were staples of my childhood summers but now it’s a whole new ball game. Don’t get me wrong I still get heat stroke etc if I’m not careful, but along with the “normal” dangers of heat come the fun that is blurry vision, dizziness, extreme fatigue, sweating like a pig (no really I never sweated like this pre-MS), numbness, tingling, weakness and all the fun little symptoms I get when my MS is exacerbated.

As such over the past 8 years I’ve developed some interesting little techniques to keep myself cool. Most obvious, some odd, some I won’t torture you with a photo format of!

heat management

Fans, I love fans. If I could afford air conditioning I would but since I can’t, fans are a must (I realised too late my new car doesn’t have AC and I nearly cried getting in it today). The red tube is a spritzer bottle I found and it squirts just the right amount of water onto my face etc to make the most of a breeze from the fan and really helps cool me down. If you freeze large bottles of water and place them in front of the fans you make a sort of mini air conditioner as the air cools when it passes around the bottles too, I don’t have space in my freezer for that sort of thing though. You can buy relatively affordable air conditioner units and I’m soooo tempted right now but for such short periods of time I don’t know if it’s worth it for me.

Cold compresses whether a flannel or a gel icepack, the added bonus of the ice pack is it can go anywhere without drenching your clothes and I’ve even had them in bed before.

Cold shower, well not cold but cool and the effect if pretty temporary though wet hair is a bonus for a while.

Ice pops! I’m a big kid yes, but Icepops are a godsend on days like today (or any time I over heat so they are always in my freezer).

Obvious and I know you’ve heard it time and time again but drink plenty of fluids, lots of water, juice, tea (hahahah yeah right in this heat). I used to freeze the whole bottle of water but have found it’s better to freeze about a quarter of a bottle on an angle and then fill it up with water. It keeps it nice and cold for longer than in a glass with icecubes but easier to drink than a solidly frozen full bottle obviously.

So today I was introduced to the idea of a cooling pad for pets. Great idea (that Toby turns out not to be keen on) and a little light bulb went off.

“If it’s safe for my pooch to lie on it, then surely…..I could use one too!!”

So off I trotted to B&M bargains in my volcanic car that nearly made me melt, got a couple of pet cooling mats, a new fan and a whole load of other bits.IMAG2067

Got home, encouraged Toby to try it out though he soon went back to the hallway, then put one behind me and slumped on the sofa, Heaven! It warms up as things will when against a very warm body. I was sort of thankful Toby wasn’t keen because that way I could fold up mine, put it in the fridge and use his. Relay cooling mat usage, it’s the future 😉

I’ll be using it on my bed tonight along with the fan and the thin sheet and the lack of coverage in general 😛

These seem to be similar to the “Chillow” that’s available but thinner and cheaper. Looking at the Chillow it would probably stay cooler a little longer but not by much and it’s smaller than the pet mat so would cover less bed area. You can even get a pad for a single bed if you’re feeling extra flush money wise!

download (1)I’ve since heard about something called an ice towel which is on order from Amazon and should arrive tomorrow just as the thunderstorm breaks and the heat goes away haha but it’ll be there for the future.

Apparently it’s designed to be naturally cooler than the atmosphere and with a bit of added water wrung out it’s even cooler 🙂 It’s similar to the cooling scarves available in how it works by the looks of things and is to do with evaporating the water to cool you down.

If I had the money I’d invest in a fancy cooling vest, I’ve debated a few times making one for myself as they’re very expensive and I know how to sew so I’m sure I could come up with something to hold ice packs! but it’s figuring out how and what to make it from that’s always stopped me. They’ve been designed for firefighters, motorbike riders, the armed forces as well as those of us with medical conditions and come in a few main types.

Evaporative cooling vests are the most affordable, as they don’t really work that well in humid areas but they are light and easy to wear under clothing.

Phase change cooling vests on the other hand actually keeps you cool in a constant temperature of around 60degrees Fahrenheit. The problem with phase change cooling vests is that you will have to either recharge it after every three hours or use cold packs that you will have to freeze and then insert them.

Active cooling vests are very effective, but you can only use some models with a power pack, making them pretty bulky but they can last for a long time.


cchv_front_web_394_generalcooling vest industycooling vestStandardBasic_Front.jpg

From looking around they go from around £30 for the most basic up to a couple of hundred for the most complicated! Boy are they tempting on days like today.

So there you go from the bog standard techniques anyone can do at home, right up to the dream scenarios of technology making things easier.

Keep yourselves cool everyone however you manage it 🙂



2 thoughts on “The battle of thermoregulation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s