Mr Uhthoff – who turned up the heat?!?

This week in the Okanagan it has been 34C. That’s 12C above normal.

Beach time! Party! BBQs!

No… for someone with MS this temperature means reverse hibernation. Summer days spent indoors, AC on, hiding from the sun.

Sunday went like this for me: morning – indoors; afternoon – in bed; evening – got up at 5pm, ate dinner outside, back in bed for 7pm in a dark, cold room!!! I did manage to get up for another hour after that, but that’s it!

So what does Mr Uhthoff has to do in this? He was a German ophthamologist and back in 1890 he discovered that when his patients with optic neuritis exercised, their eye sight got worse. The reason? Their body temperature rose.

We now know that a rise in body temperature, through  anything, but including exercise, showering, and, of course, the weather causes a spike in MS symptoms. Whatever symptoms you have get worse as your body overheats and once your body cools down they go away. 

What can you do? The simple one is avoid heat! That’s the reason our hot tub is tepid. Don’t go out in the heat and if you have to, limit your exposure. You can also use cooling vests or wrist and neck coolers. 

We didn’t have AC before I got MS. Even in the sunny Okanagan we were fine with open windows and fans, because the temperature drops so much overnight. Unfortunately MS put an end to that, and we were able to get  heat pump (which also cools – oxymoronic name…) through various energy grants that were available at the time and a tax break from Revenue Canada, as air conditioning is a recognised medical device for people with MS. Check that link out here!

At the recent BC and Yukon Division MS Society conference, the keynote speaker, Dr Reebye, a physiatrist, told the story of a man with MS in Texas. He was driving home and the AC in his car failed. It meant that his leg got stuck on the accelerator and he drove into his neighbour’s garage. Luckily, he wasn’t injured. The police showed up – and the man called his neurologist! Why? To explain Uhthoff’s phenomenom to the cop!

Please enjoy the heat sensibly – those of us with MS will be watching from indoors!



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