Dealing with Heat and Hot Weather
If you live with myasthenia gravis (MG), you may have blurred vision and weakness in your arms, hands, face, and legs. You may also experience shortness of breath and fatigue. These symptoms are very common when you have MG, which is an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness.1
Certain things can make your MG symptoms like muscle weakness and fatigue worse. These triggers can include things in your environment or anything you eat or drink.
Many people with MG find that heat and hot weather are triggers. Your symptoms can get worse briefly when you are very warm. Even small changes in the temperature can bring on symptoms.2,3
Understanding how heat and hot weather can trigger your MG can help you take steps to help manage your condition.
For people who live with MG, hot weather can cause some unpleasant symptoms. Temperature extremes of either hot or cold may make you feel weak. Extremely hot temperatures, humidity, and sunlight all can make MG worse. Sunlight and bright lights can affect your eyes, too.1,2,4
It is not just steamy outdoor temperatures that you need to be wary of. Warm indoor temperatures can also make you feel worse. So can hot showers and baths, saunas, and hot tubs.2
Hot foods and drinks can be another problem when you live with MG. These can aggravate your MG symptoms. They can affect your mouth and your throat. They may even affect your ability to swallow.1,4
Impact on MG symptoms
With MG, the body attacks areas where nerves communicate with certain muscles. This communication is what makes our muscles work. Without the ability to properly communicate, the muscles tire easily and become weak.5
Higher temperatures can also stop nerves from sending signals to the brain, muscles, and the rest of the body. People with MG already have problems with the communication between nerves and muscles.
Heat can make this communication even more difficult and rapidly cause MG symptoms. However, how each person with MG reacts to temperatures greatly varies.5
How to protect yourself
If you have noticed that excessive heat triggers your MG symptoms, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure:4,6
- Opt for short showers with warm water instead of hot baths
- Wait for meals to cool down before eating and avoid spicy foods
- Try iced coffee and tea instead of hot versions of your favorite drinks
- When it is hot outside, stay in air-conditioned spaces. If you do not have air conditioning at home, keep floor fans or ceiling fans in every room.
- When you feel warm, place a damp towel around your neck
- Wear loose, moisture-wicking clothing. You can also try wearing a cooling vest.
- Spend time outdoors during the early morning hours or late evening, when the temperatures are the coolest
- Do not overdo it when you are exercising. If you feel hot, fatigued, or find it hard to breathe, stop and rest.
Keep in mind that what works one day may not work the next. You may need to try several things to reduce your exposure to heat and hot temperatures.
If you have concerns about how heat and hot temperatures affect your symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can give you suggestions for ways to reduce your triggers while still doing the activities you enjoy.
Have you found it difficult to discuss your diagnosis or symptoms with loved ones?