The weather is clearly getting hotter – certainly in England. And it looks as though the temperature could exceed 30 degrees c in some places today
So, the Met Office has issued a health heat warning that particularly applies to people with medical conditions like ME/CFS that cause temperature control problems.
Basic information on temperature control and ME/CFS
People with ME/CFS almost always have problems with temperature control. This is probably related to a problem with a tiny ’thermostat’ gland in the brain called the hypothalamus – which plays a key role in temperature regulation and control.
In addition, the autonomic nervous system, that controls the size of tiny blood vessels, becomes more sensitive to changes in temperature.
So having ME/CFS makes people more sensitive to both hot (including things like hot baths) and cold weather.
Keeping cool in the heat
Top tips for dealing with hot weather – day and night
- Wear lightweight and loose fitting cotton clothes and a wide-brimmed hat if you have to go outside in the heat
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated – but avoid too many caffeine-containing drinks
- Eat small regular meals
- Reduce activity levels and stay indoors, especially between 10am and 6pm – unless you really need to go out
- Be aware of warning signs of heat related illness/heat stroke – nausea, headache, confusion, muscle cramps, feeling faint
- Close the curtains and windows during the day in any room you want to stay cool, especially those that face the sun
- Buy a fan for use and/or other products (ie: cooling towels, portable airconditioning units) if it’s really hot
- Take a cold ‘hot water bottle’ to bed at night
- Have a bowl of cold water and a flannel by the bedside at night to cool down with
- Be aware that some drugs (eg antidepressants, antihistamines) can also affect temperature control mechanisms
Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association.