Surviving the summer months (and weather) with a chronic condition isn’t always easy – especially if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation, COPD, asthma or a different chronic condition not mentioned here. Sometimes hot weather exacerbates symptoms while other times may worsen your fatigue, dizziness or nausea.
We know it isn’t always easy for you to change and manage your symptoms with the weather. Fall and Spring may seem like the perfect weather, and you may go flare-free for most of it, and then comes winter, and it may cause you to get sicker and worsen your symptoms severely. It’s just not fair how the weather treats you.
So, how do you beat the summer heat while keeping your symptoms in total check? Below you can find some tips for coping during the summer with a chronic condition.
Water is your best friend during the summer! For many chronic conditions, being dehydrated can trigger symptoms or worsen them. During the hotter months, we tend to sweat more which causes us to lose sodium in our bodies. You see, the body loses a lot of sodium through sweating, and when sodium goes down to a certain point, it can worsen symptoms.
To prevent unwanted symptoms or triggers, drink up to eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. While this may seem a lot, it will keep your body happy and moving throughout the day – no matter what you’re doing. An easy way to increase your water intake is to keep a water bottle on you at all times and keep refilling it.
Lastly, if you don’t reach up to eight glasses of water per day, don’t stress about it. Drink until you feel wholly hydrated or start slowly on trying to reach the eight per day goal.
Take Breaks from the Outdoors
The summer weather for some may encourage them to spend plenty of time outdoors doing things like gardening, going biking, have a picnic or other family fun activities. If heat or humidity is one of your triggers that exacerbate your symptoms, try to avoid going outdoors during those days.
When the weather is too hot to handle, spending those days indoors with the A/C will have your body thanking you in the long-term. You’ll prevent yourself from worsening your fatigue and protect yourself from dizziness.
Stay in the Shade
While you’re outdoors or having fun in the sun during the nicer days of summer, try your best to stay in the shade as much as possible – especially if you are sensitive to the heat. Thankfully most places have some outdoor shading you can use, however, if you find yourself going to the beach or having a picnic at the park, your best option to keep you out of the sun is with an umbrella.
One of the best ways to remember to bring your umbrella with you is to keep it by the front entrance before you’re about to leave, you can keep one in the car or buy a few extras to put in a friend or loved one’s car. Also, if using an umbrella is out of the question for you, you can buy a large sun hat.
Stay Cool with These Two Things
When you’re battling the heat and trying to stay as cool as possible, it can be tricky to find a solution. Thankfully the answer to staying cool during the summer begins with your closet and using a plant mister – one of the most inexpensive ways too!
During the summer, you’ll want to wear very light clothing. Examples of light clothing include linen, cotton, and silk are just a few ways to keep cool. All of these clothing materials allow your skin to breathe which, in turn, keeps your body at a cool temperature instead of overheating. Luckily for you, you can find these clothing materials almost everywhere.
Now, onto the next item, the plant mister. You can pick this item up at your local garden store, department store or dollar store. Plant misters come in a variety of sizes, from extra-small to extra-large, allowing you plenty of ways to keep cool (especially if you refrigerate the water after filling). Most people buy two sizes, a small and large one. They keep the small one in their pocket or purse and typically keep the large one at home, or when they know, they’re going outdoors for a while.
Only Eat Cool Foods, and Avoid the Hot Ones
Did you know that there are plenty of different foods that help to keep the body cool and it all depends on how you prepare them? The trick to this is by eating certain foods raw, steamed or boiled which will keep your body cool or at a neutral temperature (it will not warm you up).
Some examples of foods that will keep you cool are fruits (apples, bananas, cantaloupes, watermelons, citrus fruits), vegetables (lettuce, radishes, cucumber, celery, asparagus, Swiss chard, spinach, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, zucchini), non-dairy products (soy milk and tofu).
Some foods you want to avoid are beans (black beans), certain spices (cinnamon, cloves, basil, rosemary, hot peppers), seeds (sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts), herbs (fennel, dill, cumin), specific vegetables (winter squash, cabbage, kale, onion), fruits (cherries), and meats and seafood (anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef, lamb).
The Bottom Line
While there is no right or wrong way to stay cool this summer with a chronic condition, your goals should be to keep hydrated, stay cool when you can, wear summer-appropriate clothing and avoid eating things that may increase your body temperature.
Hopefully, these tips will help you beat the heat this summer and allow you to enjoy the season while it’s here.
NewLifeOutlook aims to empower people living with chronic mental and physical health conditions, encouraging them to embrace a positive outlook despite unfortunate circumstances. Their articles are full of practical advice from people who have firsthand experience of living with a chronic condition.