Despite research to the contrary, every fibromyalgia sufferer I know agrees that extreme temperatures worsen our symptoms. Or perhaps the symptoms just become more difficult to bear.
I am truly miserable in the heat. The temperature gauge on my patio registered 104 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. That is most unusual for this locale, and it actually feels painful to my skin. For those who don’t have air conditioning, temperatures like this contribute to sleepless nights that increase pain and fatigue. Plenty of research proves this!
Since childhood, I have suffered in the heat. Nausea was my most common symptom, followed closely by headaches, fatigue, and total body pain. In those days, no one had air conditioning at home. The coolest place was commonly the basement, which had great insulation and remained cool on the warmest days.
Our house was over 100 years old. As such, its basement was meant for storage only. My mother’s canned fruits and vegetables were happy down there. Me, not so much. At the first appearance of a spider, I sought coolness elsewhere.
My common retreats in those days were the beach, the community swimming pool, and the movie theater. There were no supermarkets then, only the corner grocer, who didn’t have air conditioning, either.
Most of those retreats are as useful today as they were then. Sadly, however, many are currently off-limits due to COVID-19, except for supermarkets. But there’s only so much time one can spend walking up and down the aisles, or if you’re lucky, riding in one of their electric carts. Eventually, one must go home.
I’m fortunate to have central air conditioning in my home today. But that wasn’t always the case. For most of my life, I just suffered. But I utilized many techniques to remain as comfortable as possible.
Following are things I used to do to cool off. I still do some of these when I need to limit the use of expensive air conditioning.
1. Drink a lot. If you get tired of drinking plain water, try adding a slice of cucumber or a few berries to your glass. Because of its high water content, eating a piece of fruit can be just as helpful as a drink. It’s a good time to buy a watermelon.
2. Conserve energy. Although it’s important to get up and stretch occasionally, this is one time when it’s good to do a lot of nothing. Read a book, browse the internet, watch a movie, or call a friend. If you must do anything physical, pacing is especially important. Sit down and rest for 10 minutes (with a drink) after 20 minutes of effort.
3. Wear breathable clothing. Cotton, linen, or rayon are particularly comfortable. Save your polyester for another day. And forget jeans! They may be made of cotton, but they’re way too heavy. If you own a loose-fitting dress, now is the time to wear it. (There’s a reason muumuus are worn in the tropics!). Air circulation underneath can be more cooling than shorts.
4. Take a cool bath or shower. It may have only a temporary effect, but a cool shower or bath can bring down your body temperature. You’ll feel better, at least for a while.
5. Keep a damp washcloth and two cotton bandanas in the freezer. When the temperature becomes unbearable, a cool wipe of the forehead and the back of the neck and wrists can cool you off in a hurry. Tie a cold bandana around your neck. Alternate with the spare one in the freezer.
6. Store some bottled water in the freezer. If you must leave the house, take a bottle of frozen water with you. Yes, it will melt, but it will stay cooler longer.
7. Stand in the grass in the shade during the coolest time of the day. Because it’s the coolest outdoor spot, this will cool you off. But it serves another purpose as well. Direct contact with the surface of the earth (known as grounding) may be the most potent antioxidant there is.
8. Put a bowl of ice in front of your fan.
9. Keep all shades and blinds closed during the day. A darker room is a cooler room.
10. Turn off all electric appliances until needed. Each one generates heat, and you don’t need any extra of that.
If all else fails, there’s always ice cream!
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.
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