Coping with Heat, Humidity and Chronic Pain

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By Ellen Smith.

Life is difficult enough coping with medical issues that include chronic pain. For many of us, the  often excessive temperatures of the summer season makes the day even more of a struggle to get through. Some of you are lucky enough to live in central air, but many of us don’t have that luxury and would certainly be better off if we did. So, we need to be careful to keep ourselves safe during these trying days of oppressive heat and humidity.

These are some suggestions to consider which might serve to relieve some of the physical stress caused by excessive heat:

  • Keep well hydrated. Many do not drink enough water. Getting dehydrated in this heat may cause normal bodily functions to deteriorate. I recently had severe pain from leg cramps due to getting dehydrated from a stomach bug. Do all you can to avoid this. So drink up and remember how important water is.
  • If muscle cramps become an issue, try including magnesium in your routine. You can even rub a liquid magnesium on the cramped legs or feet for relief.
  • If you are like me, living with low blood pressure, you need to be very careful to keep your salt intake up. You do not want to be passing out, especially during this humidity and heat.
  • Your electrolytes can get off easily so one thing that was suggested to me to keep myself more stable is to include a potassium gluconate tablet daily. This has helped to keep my body chemicals in balance when exposed to long stretches of heat and humidity, I have turned to even taking a second pill in the afternoon.
  • For some with low BP, extra salt on your food is just not enough to keep you safe. When my cardiologist included Midodrine tablets that I take three times a day, I stopped passing out. So, if you are also on daily medication for your BP whether it is low or elevated issues, be sure to not miss those doses. There are many other medications to help keep your BP elevated.
  • Exercising is wonderful but be careful during the heat. The safest time is during the coolest time of the day, generally first thing in the morning.
  • Chances are you are going to feel more dragging than ever when the heat hits. Make a deal with yourself to let things go and try to find quiet things to do to keep that body temperature down. Some of us possess that drive to be productive and thus we do not feel satisfied not accomplishing things we normally do but this is not the time to push yourself.
  • Be careful to not have meals in large quantities and also avoid very heavy, rich ingredients. It takes energy for food to be digested and you need to reserve that energy! Think about small, maybe more frequent meals. And if the heat takes your appetite away, be careful not to go without so perhaps focus on creating small but nutritious meals. For those with compromised health, good food is critical for strength and healing.
  • Many of us do not live with central air so you have to find a way to keep cool and safe. We resort to fans in the house and an air conditioner in the bedroom and family room so there are places to escape the heat and be safe.The last heat wave we had, the inside of our house, for days, reached 86 degrees. That temperature would have had me passing out if I had not had these rooms to find relief.
  • Remember to limit your exposure to the extreme heat when traveling. Be sure to bring water in the car to keep hydrated. You should also always keep extra water in your car in case of emergencies. Keeping your cell phone charged and in you possession when traveling is also necessary to maintain your safety.

Remember, before we know it, we will be fondly recalling these warm days when the snow falls again, but until then, we need to safely get through the summer heat. If you have suggestions to add, it would be great if you added them for others below in the comments!

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

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